Wind power is coming to the fore as a potential green-energy source, but concern is growing among American Indian tribes about the price that birds may have to pay.
Eagles already are known to die by flying or getting sucked into wind turbines. Now some eagles are in danger even before the turbines are erected. According to documents obtained by the Osage Nation, Wind Capital Group, which wants to build a 94-turbine wind farm between Pawhuska and Ponca City, is seeking a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to kill “multiple eagles per year,” up to 120 of them during the life of the project.
“The eagle is a sacred and symbolic figure to the Osage people, and the area targeted for this project contains a high bald eagle population,” said Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle in a statement. “While the Osage Nation does not oppose wind energy or alternative energy, we do oppose the specific area for this project. It all comes down to siting projects in appropriate places, and this is not an appropriate place for a massive wind energy project.”
The Osage are establishing an eagle aviary to care for the injured birds that live through the ordeal and are urging people to comment against the proposed permit with the Fish and Wildlife Service. People are encouraged to send their comments to Jerry Thompson, Chief of the USFWS Migratory Bird Permits Office, by phone at (505) 248-6406 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The significance of this permit application cannot be overstated,” Red Eagle said in the Osage statement. “If granted, this would be precedent setting. It should concern all tribes that the federal government is even considering authorizing the killing of eagles on tribal land without the consent of the Osage Nation.”