Industrial Wind Turbine Development

The Great Lakes provide habitat for millions of waterbirds that migrate within the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways and also provide wintering habitat for significant populations of several waterbird species. The Ontario Government, through the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, is promoting the placement of thousands of onshore and offshore industrial wind turbines. Most of which are located along the Great Lakes shorelines where large concentrations of waterbirds migrate, stage and winter. Long Point Waterfowl is concerned that placement of industrial wind turbines close to important staging, migratory and wintering habitats could adversely affect waterbirds through direct mortality (collisions) and/or displacement from important and traditionally used habitats. For instance, European studies have shown that waterbird use of traditionally used habitats declines substantially following the construction of closely associated onshore and offshore industrial wind turbines. Based on the potential for adverse impacts on waterbirds, Long Point Waterfowl has urged industrial wind turbine developers to not place turbines in or near important waterbird habitats and have requested that governments provide more restrictive requirements for industrial wind turbine setbacks and pre and post- construction monitoring.

Long Point Waterfowl, in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Service, recently expanded our lower Great Lakes shoreline and offshore surveys to provide more information on which regions of the lower Great Lakes should be protected from industrial wind turbine developments. During the winter and spring of 2009 and 2010 several offshore (1 and 3 kilometers) transects were flown to document the density of waterfowl and other waterbirds using potential offshore wind development areas.
Long Point Waterfowl and the Canadian Wildlife Service hope to continue these pre-development surveys this fall to get a better understanding of the density and use of waterfowl and other waterbirds in proposed offshore wind development areas during fall migration.

Long Point Waterfowl in collaboration with the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Seaduck Joint Venture are also surgically implanting Long-Tailed Ducks with satellite transmitters as part of a Phil Wilson’s M.Sc. research project. Locations obtained from these birds will allow Long Point Waterfowl and others to better understand microhabitat use of wintering waterfowl on the lower Great Lakes. This information will also answer questions pertaining to any potential overlap between areas used by waterfowl and sites for potential offshore wind energy development.

Katelyn Weaver will be starting her M.Sc. with Long Point Waterfowl in January 2011. Katelyn will be conducting a retrospective analysis of Tundra Swan satellite tracking data that was collected by Long Point Waterfowl as well as data collected by Dr. Khristi Wilkins as part of her Ph.D. project. Katelyn will be using this data to study the habitat use of Tundra Swans
staging on the lower Great Lakes and will be making recommendations for the placement of industrial wind turbines in the region.

Everett Hanna (Ph.D. Candidate) is sudying the staging ecology and habitat use of Sandhill Cranes on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. His project has included the attachment of satellite transmitters to 13 Sandhill Cranes captured on the island. Habitat use information provided by these satellite-tracked birds will enable Everett to make recommendations pertaining to industrial wind turbine placement on Manitoulin Island and elsewhere on the migratory route of Eastern Poulation Sandhill Cranes.

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