News FocusEcology

Deadly Flights

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Science  24 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5939, pp. 386-387
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_386

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With wind power booming around the world—in Germany alone, nearly 20,000 wind-energy installations have been built since 1990—researchers are seeing a marked increase in dead bats. The turbines simply rotate their blades too quickly for the winged mammals to avoid. The deaths have led to a flurry of research on migratory bats and their behavior. Indeed, at a January conference in Berlin on migratory bats, wind farms were a dominant theme. Scientists are racing to figure out what brings the bats in contact with wind turbines, and what can be done to save them. There are no easy answers, in part because little is known about migratory bats. And without concrete data, persuading government regulators and energy companies to relocate proposed wind farms, let alone change the operations of existing turbines or shut them down, is difficult.