Fish And Wildlife Service Recommends Eagle Take Permit For Chokecherry Wind Farm

Dec 9, 2016

A wind farm in central Wyoming. File photo.
Credit Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recommending that the Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm near Saratoga receive a so-called “eagle take” permit that would allow it to kill 1 bald eagle and up to 14 golden eagles a year.

In exchange, the Power Company of Wyoming, which owns the project, would need to pay to retrofit a number of power poles that can electrocute eagles. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that as a result of those mitigation measures, there will be no net loss of eagle population in the local area or the region.

If issued, this would be the first eagle take permit given to to a new wind farm. Chokecherry-Sierra Madre is the largest proposed onshore wind farm in North America.

“As a very large project, they had some flexibility in being able to move the turbines around the landscape to try to avoid those riskier areas," said Clint Riley, assistant regional director for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

He said the company worked with the agency during the development phase to minimize eagle deaths through turbine layout.

“And that was pretty important to us because it’s also a much larger project and therefore has the potential to have a lot more impacts on eagles.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service is taking public comment on the analysis that prompted its suggestion for 30 days before it issues a final decision and permit.