Native Americans Protest Eagle Deaths at Wind FarmsCommentary by H. Sterling Burnett
December 26, 2013
In the face of continued raptor deaths and the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to encourage new industrial wind farm developments, American Indian tribes are becoming increasingly vocal opponents of new wind farms.
No Meaningful Consultation From the Osage Nation of northern Oklahoma to the Hopis and more than a dozen other tribes in Arizona, American Indians are urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to abandon plans to permit wind farms to kill bald and golden eagles, which many tribes regard as culturally and spiritually important.
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest national organization of tribal governments, along with attorneys representing the Osage Nation and 20 Arizona tribes, met with the White House to discuss the FWS’ eagle “take” rules. After the meeting, the NCAI passed a resolution accusing the administration of failing to consult meaningfully with tribes while pursuing a rule to lengthen eagle take permits for wind farms from five to 30 years. The resolution said eagle permits should not be issued without the consent of affected tribes.
Unavoidable Eagle Deaths Wind farms must be located where the wind blows fairly constantly, and such locations are prime travel routes for migratory birds, including protected species such as bald eagles and golden eagles. Exacerbating the problem, wind farms act as both bait and executioner—rodents taking shelter at the base of turbines multiply with the protection from raptors, and their greater numbers then attract more raptors to the turbines.