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Interim Guidelines To Avoid and Minimize
Wildlife Impacts from Wind Turbines


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior
March 13, 2003

complete PDF document (3 MB) available at www.fws.gov/r9dhcbfa/wind.pdf


Site Development Recommendations

The following recommendations apply to locating turbines and associated structures within WRAs [wind resource areas] selected for development of wind energy facilities:

  1. Avoid placing turbines in documented locations of any species of wildlife, fish, or plant protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act.
  2. Avoid locating turbines in known local bird migration pathways or in areas where birds are highly concentrated, unless mortality risk is low (e.g., birds present rarely enter the rotor-swept area). Examples of high concentration areas for birds are wetlands, State or Federal refuges, private duck clubs, staging areas, rookeries, leks, roosts, riparian areas along streams, and landfills. Avoid known daily movement flyways (e.g., between roosting and feeding areas) and areas with a high incidence of fog, mist, low cloud ceilings, and low visibility.
  3. Avoid placing turbines near known bat hibernation, breeding, and maternity/nursery colonies, in migration corridors, or in flight paths between colonies and feeding areas.
  4. Configure turbine locations to avoid areas or features of the landscape known to attract raptors (hawks, falcons, eagles, owls). For example, Golden Eagles, hawks, and falcons use cliff/rim edges extensively; setbacks from these edges may reduce mortality. Other examples include not locating turbines in a dip or pass in a ridge, or in or near prairie dog colonies.
  5. Configure turbine arrays to avoid potential avian mortality where feasible. For example, group turbines rather than spreading them widely, and orient rows of turbines parallel to known bird movements, thereby decreasing the potential for bird strikes. Implement appropriate storm water management practices that do not create attractions for birds, and maintain contiguous habitat for area-sensitive species (e.g., Sage Grouse).
  6. Avoid fragmenting large, contiguous tracts of wildlife habitat. Where practical, place turbines on lands already altered or cultivated, and away from areas of intact and healthy native habitats. If not practical, select fragmented or degraded habitats over relatively intact areas.
  7. Avoid placing turbines in habitat known to be occupied by prairie grouse or other species that exhibit extreme avoidance of vertical features and/or structural habitat fragmentation. In known prairie grouse habitat, avoid placing turbines within 5 miles of known leks (communal pair formation grounds).
  8. Minimize roads, fences, and other infrastructure. All infrastructure should be capable of withstanding periodic burning of vegetation, as natural fires or controlled burns are necessary for maintaining most prairie habitats.
  9. Develop a habitat restoration plan for the proposed site that avoids or minimizes negative impacts on vulnerable wildlife while maintaining or enhancing habitat values for other species. For example, avoid attracting high densities of prey animals (rodents, rabbits, etc.) used by raptors.
  10. Reduce availability of carrion by practicing responsible animal husbandry (removing carcasses, fencing out cattle, etc.) to avoid attracting Golden Eagles and other raptors.