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Wildlife & Wind Power

December 20, 2013

A new GPS tracking system could warn wind power companies of oncoming birds in time to prevent deadly collisions.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Wildlife and wind power. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Wind turbines can be hazardous to birds. (Andol/Wikipedia)

Wind power offers a green alternative to fossil fuels. But collisions often kill passing birds. So wildlife scientists are teaming up with energy companies to minimize the risk. One solution involves attaching GPS transmitters to endangered California Condors, according to Mike Wallace of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

MIKE WALLACE (Institute for Conservation Research):

The transmitter will be working as an early alert system for the birds getting into danger. If it’s 15 miles out, we’ll get a weak alert. As it gets to 10 miles and 5 miles the alerts will become more critical and even to the point of shutting down turbines.

HIRSHON:

He says warning lights and sounds and could also be deployed to encourage the birds to fly in another direction. He and his team are planning to test the system in Baja, California in the coming months. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.