Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office
Southwest Region

The Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and Wind Energy Development in Oklahoma

The Service supports the development of nonpolluting, renewable, sustainable energy sources, including wind generated electricity. However, wind energy facilities can adversely impact wildlife and their habitats if not sited, constructed and operated appropriately. As more facilities are built and turbine size increases, the cumulative effects of this rapidly growing industry may initiate or contribute to the decline of some wildlife populations and loss of their habitats. The potential harm to these populations from this potential additional source of mortality and habitat loss makes careful evaluation of proposed facilities essential.

Image of wind turbines

The Service is directed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to assist other Federal agencies in ensuring that any action they authorize, implement, or fund (i.e., a federal nexus), including wind energy developments, will not jeopardize the continued existence of any federally-listed threatened or endangered species or destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat. In efforts to avoid and minimize impacts to trust resources, the Service also coordinates with other conservation agencies and organizations, as well as wind developers, to provide technical assistance for wind energy projects that have no federal nexus. Ultimately, however it is the responsibility of those involved with the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed project to 1) complete a risk assessment, 2) determine the likelihood of impacting federally-protected species and other important fish and wildlife resources, and 3) pursue the appropriate course of action.

Take of federally-listed species is expressly prohibited by section 9 of the ESA. The ESA defines take as: to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. Harm is further defined to include significant habitat modification or degradation that results in death or injury to listed species by significantly impairing essential behavioral patterns, including breeding, feeding, or sheltering.

Take incidental to an otherwise lawful activity may be authorized through formal consultation under section 7(a)(2) of the ESA, provided a Federal agency carries out, funds or permits the activity. Otherwise, when a non-federal action has the potential to impact federally-listed species, an incidental take permit pursuant to section 10(a)(1)(B) may be obtained upon completion of a satisfactory habitat conservation plan (HCP). There is no mechanism for authorizing incidental take "after-the-fact." For more information regarding formal consultation, please see the Endangered Species Laws & Policies. For more information regarding HCPs, please see the Service's HCP web site. Keep in mind that consultation with the Service under section 7 of the ESA is authorized only for the federal action agency or the officially designated non-federal representative.

For more information on ESA consultation or to request technical assistance from the Service regarding wind energy projects, please complete the Wind Energy Project Description Datasheet and submit this with other appropriate materials describing the proposed project to this office. A recommended format for submission is located on the Oklahoma Ecological Services Field Office's consultation page of this website, in a document titled, "Project Description and Evaluation Request Outline". The OKESFO Standard recommendations for avoiding and minimizing the impacts of wind energy projects are provided below.

Relevant Documents and Information Resources: Relevant links to other web sites:

Project Reviews

Endangered Species
•Species in Oklahoma (PDF)
•What species occur in my project area?
• Species of Concern (PDF)
• Species Fact Sheets

Critical Habitat
• What is it? (PDF)
• Critical Habitat Mapper

General Info:
• Plants and the ESA (PDF)
• Eagles and Migratory Birds

• Wind Energy

Communication Towers
• Service Guidance on the Siting, Construction, Operation and Decommissioning of Communication Towers

• Approved Surveyors
• How to be a Surveyor (PDF)
How long is an animal
..survey valid?
• How long is a plant
..survey valid?

Additional Documents
• BEST Management Practices, Species Watershed Maps, Endangered Species Act, Regulations, etc.

Last updated: May 25, 2017
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.