One of the most abundant bat species in Europe may be attracted to wind turbines and this could be why so many are found dead around the continent’s wind farms, a study suggests.
Researchers at the University of Exeter monitored the activity of common pipistrelle bats at 23 British wind farms and similar “control” locations close by without turbines. They found activity was around a third higher at the turbines than the control locations and that two-thirds of occasions of high activity were recorded around the turbines. While the precise reason for such activity remains unclear, the team suggested it could be that the bats are attracted to the turbines themselves. Another possibility could be the presence of more of the bats’ insect prey around the turbines, the researchers added. “We know bats are killed by turbines worldwide and reducing these fatalities is essential to ensuring a global increase in wind energy with minimal impact on bats,” said Professor David Hosken, of the University of Exeter. Professor Hosken said their findings helped explain why environmental impact assessments carried out before the installation of turbines were poor indicators of actual fatality rates. “Turbines are generally built-in areas where bat activity is thought to be low, but this may not be an effective strategy if bats are attracted once turbines are built,” he said. Although the reason for the increased deathrate of these bats near turbines still remains not entirely clear, it is hoped that these studies will help prevent this deadly biproduct of wind energy.