A new analysis by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind project would kill 10 to 14 golden eagles a year, if built. The proposed project south of Rawlins would be the largest onshore wind farm in North America, sending power to up to a million homes in California.
In 2012, the Bureau of Land Management estimated the full 1000 turbine project would kill three times as many eagles. The Fish and Wildlife Service mortality numbers only account for the first phase of the project, which involves just 500 turbines, but Clint Riley the assistant regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service said the number is also lower because since 2012, Power Company of Wyoming worked with the agency to site turbines away from areas with high eagle collision risk.
"Turbine siting, both the original macro-siting and then micro-siting of specific turbines is the most effective means we know of to try to limit the risk," Riley said. "Once turbines are on the ground, the options become more limited.”
If the project receives approval, Power Company of Wyoming would also be required to spend money on conservation projects to save as many eagles as it would kill.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comment on its draft analysis. A final environmental impact statement is expected this fall.