According to Mr. Craig Koppie with the Chesapeake Bay Field Office of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, direct threats to the eastern golden eagle population in Canada and the eastern United States include incidental capture (leghold traps), shooting, poisoning, environmental contaminants (lead/mercury) and collision with tower structures. The demands for industrial-scale wind energy facilities along the higher elevations of mountainous regions in the eastern United States will likely exacerbate declines in the eastern golden eagle population.
Wind turbines kill more than 573,000 birds each year in the United States, according to The Associated Press, including federally-protected species like bald eagles and golden eagles. Bats are also falling victim to wind-turbine blades. The Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates that more than 10,000 bats are killed in the state each year by wind turbines, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Though it can appear as though they’re turning at a slow, almost relaxed pace, wind-turbine blades actually move very rapidly. The outer tips of some turbines’ blades can reach speeds of 179 mph (288 kilometers per hour) and can easily slice off an eagle’s wing. And when hawks, falcons and eagles are flying, they’re usually looking down at the ground for prey, not glancing up to watch for a knifelike blade whipping down on them from above.
“There is nothing in the evolution of eagles that would come near to describing a wind turbine,” Grainger Hunt, a raptor specialist with the Peregrine Fund, told the AP. “There has never been an opportunity to adapt to that sort of threat.”
Wind-project siting is another factor. Many wind projects are constructed in the middle of important migratory routes and are surrounded by prime raptor habitat. The American Bird Conservancy has documented the 10 worst sited industrial wind facilities.
The following FAQ from the National Wind Watch provides more information about the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife: National Wind Watch Wildlife and Industrial Wind Power