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Energy, Utilities & Guidance

image of golden eagle in flight with graphic symbol for energy and utilities

Energy development and transmission present unique challenges to eagle conservation. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is committed to working with industry to maintain robust eagle populations and achieve our energy needs nationally. These pages are designed to help you quickly find information about the intersection of eagle conservation and energy development.

Wind

In some situations eagles and other raptors simply collide with spinning wind turbine blades. In addition, the windiest and best locations for wind energy production often coincide with prime eagle habitat. So the Service, our conservation partners, and industry are working to find ways to avoid and minimize collisions and maintain strong eagle populations. In recent years the Service has devoted considerable resources on this issue.

The Service developed Wind Energy Guidelines and Eagle Conservation Plan Guidance to help wind energy companies develop their projects in smart locations, and work through the eagle take permit process, if necessary.

Lines, Towers & Poles

The transmission of energy from where it is generated to where it is used involves millions of miles of conducting lines of various sizes, towers, poles, and other hardware, all of which pose a varying range of collision or electrocution risk to eagles (and other birds).

Transmission lines seem to pose a small risk of collision to flying birds, essentially no electrocution risk, and in some locations eagles choose to nest on large towers. The smaller distribution lines and their equipment (e.g. transformers) sometimes do pose a significant risk of electrocution, however.

The following resources developed by Avian Power Line Interaction Committee describe the effort of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and utilities to negotiate these issues:

Suggested Practices for Avian Protection on Power Lines: The State of the Art in 2006

Reducing Avian Collisions with Power Lines (2012)

Avian Protection Plan Guidelines (2005)

Map It!

A number of government and non-government organizations are developing mapping tools to help guide energy and transmission line developments away from areas of high wildlife use, including eagles.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has developed a system called Information, Planning, and Conservation (IPaC) and is developing an energy development extension, the Landscape-scale Energy Action Plan (LEAP), which will be available in 2015. The Western Governor’s Association has developed the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT), and the American Wind Wildlife Institute has developed a various tools to assist wind developers.

Each of these can help inform site development relative to potential wildlife use, and each is being updated as new information becomes available. LEAP is developing map layers specific to Golden Eagle use, first for Wyoming and later for other western states and should be available sometime in 2015.

Research & Monitoring

There is a large community of researchers within the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, State wildlife agencies, and universities who devote themselves to learning more about eagle populations, their interactions with renewable energy developments, and dispersal and migratory movements of eagles. To see how the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is monitoring Bald Eagles, visit the following:

USFWS Bald Eagle Monitoring Program
Last Updated: January 16, 2015
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