22 May 2015

Migrating Golden Eagles to be Slaughtered in Ontario

Press release provided by Save the Eagles International, May 22, 2015.

In October/November each year, as snow covers their hunting grounds, golden eagles from Canada fly south to warmer climates in the United States. Those migrating from Northern Ontario and the western half of Quebec (all the way up to the Ungava Peninsula) must deal with a major obstacle: the Great Lakes.

Unlike sea gulls, large raptors won’t travel long distances over water if they can avoid it. They prefer to follow the shore till they find a convenient crossing point, such as Holiday Beach at the western tip of Lake Erie, where 93 golden eagles were counted over a migration period, and thousands of other raptors (1). Prince Edward County (PEC), a headland protruding southwards into Lake Ontario where it meets a string of islands leading to the US shore, is another concentration area: 60 golden eagles (GEs), 25 bald eagles, and 1,100 raptors were counted there on a single day, October 29th 2009 (1). The Species at Risk study, commissioned for the White Pines’ wind project on PEC, reports the sighting of four migrating GEs per day on average, which would come to 120 a month. “This is clearly the main flyway for this species”, comments the South Shore Conservancy (2). Indeed, the entire GE population of Ontario and Western Quebec is estimated to number no more than 250 birds. Equally alarming is this observation reported in the study: “most were flying at blade level” (2).

​Map showing the Prince Edward headland, the string of islands used by migrating birds to cross the lake, and the wind projects that will butcher them. Available at Ontario Wind Turbines

According to Parks Canada: the island chain is a migration corridor for birds. Over 12 million birds pass through this area each year (3). Before crossing the lake, large numbers of birds often congregate on the south shore of PEC, which is a designated Important Bird Area (4). Yet, two wind projects may soon be built within that “protected” area - Whites Pines and Ostander Point - and a third one is in waiting: Loyalist. If this is not a premeditated crime against migrating birds, what is? These are indeed "protected" under Canada's Migratory Birds Convention Act and the international Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The Ontario government state on their webpage (5) that the conservation status of the Golden Eagle in Ontario is “endangered”: “the species lives in the wild in Ontario but is facing imminent extinction or extirpation”. They also acknowledge that “during migration they (GEs) … are most frequently seen migrating west along the shores of Lake Ontario and Erie in November”. “In the fall of 2008, several stations on Lake Ontario and Erie reported more than 50 (GEs) in one day”. Finally, the risk of collision is acknowledged, if grudgingly: “collisions with wind turbines have been documented at some sites”.

The “some sites” they refer to are those rare wind farms where monitoring of bird mortality has been performed. At most wind plants, where no monitoring is done, no carcasses are found, or at least reported, except on rare occasions. Windfarm employees are not keen on reporting what will hurt their employers, and their own jobs. Besides, eagle feathers, talons and beaks are worth money on the black market. But in spite of this cover up on eagle mortality, it has been documented that thousands of GEs have been killed by wind turbines (6). They are in fact attracted to them, as are ospreys and other raptors (7). This is why so many are getting struck by turbine blades, something that financial and political interests have been trying to hide, while proposing ineffective measures of mitigation or compensation (8).

Common sense demands that migration routes, bottlenecks and staging areas be spared by wind developers. The Ontario government agrees to this in its Golden Eagle Recovery Strategy: “It is recommended that provisions should be made to incorporate any future information gathered on migration corridors and stop-over sites (habitat used for resting, roosting and foraging during migration) for inclusion within a habitat regulation” (9).

This hasn’t been done, yet it has been known for years that PEC is a vital stop-over site for GEs and 12 million birds each year (3), and possibly for millions of bats as well. The Ontario government knows it, ornithologists know it, and so do bird watchers. There will be carnage, but the decision makers behave as if the developers' impact assessments were unbiased. In fact, this attitude is fairly common all over the world: conflicts of interest, i.e. corruption, pave the way for the destruction of our environment (10).

Once the wind projects are built (White Pines and Ostander Point, and later perhaps Loyalist, Amherst, Trillium Power Wind 1, Wolfe Island Shoals), "habitat regulation" will become meaningless. It will be too late. The massacre will begin.

We respectfully request the Ontario government to stop these projects.

Mark Duchamp, President


1) – golden-eagles-would-funnel-through-a-turbine-killing-zone-in-prince-edward-county
Of particular interest, the mention of a letter from the Ministry of the Environment which states: “An observation credited to Phil Taylor of 1100 raptors at Prince Edward Point Oct 29 2009, including 60 Golden Eagles and 25 Bald Eagles (BR Sec. 3.7, p. 3.9, para 6). These numbers are confirmed by David Okine, director of Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory.” Note: this is a one-day count.
2) - species at risk
3) - effects of wind turbines
wind turbines
4) - important bird area
Important Bird Area ”During fall migration, large numbers of raptors, both diurnal and nocturnal, move over the Point. Up to 2,000 hawks a day can regularly be observed including large numbers of Sharp-shinned, Red-shouldered, and Red-tailed Hawks.” And: “In total, some 298 species of birds have been recorded at Prince Edward Point with about 220 species being recorded during the average year. Most of these species are recorded during migration, although at least 74 species nest within the area. The number and diversity of landbirds that concentrate in this small area during spring and fall migration is outstanding.”
5) - golden eagle
golden eagle
6) - eagle mortality statistics
Note: these eagle mortality statistics were gathered by chance, and represent the tip of the iceberg. Besides, they haven’t been updated since 2006.
Some of the ospreys killed by wind turbines (tip of the iceberg)
Effects on red kites: (pages 96, 97).
7) - raptors attracted to windfarms
8) - covering up the massacre
9) - golden eagle
10) - Tax Agency uncovers alleged wind farm payoff scheme in Castilla y León