Most studies on the effects of wind energy on animals have focused on avian and bat activity, habitat use, and mortality, whereas very few have been published on terrestrial, non-volant wildlife. In this paper, we studied the utilization of functioning wind farm areas by four terrestrial animals common to agricultural landscapes: European roe deer, European hare, red fox, and the common pheasant. Firstly, we expected that the studied animals do not avoid areas close to turbines and utilize the whole area of functioning wind farms with a frequency similar to the control areas. Secondly, we expected that there is no relation between the turbine proximity and the number of tracks of these animals. The study was conducted over two winter seasons using the snow-tracking method along 100 m linear transects. In total, 583 transects were recorded. Wind farm operations may affect terrestrial animals both in wind farm interiors and in a 700-m buffer zone around the edge of turbines. The reactions of animals were species specific. Herbivorous mammals (roe deer and European hare) avoided wind farm interiors and proximity to turbines. The common pheasant showed a positive reaction to wind turbine proximity. The red fox had the most neutral response to wind turbines. Although this species visited wind farm interiors less often than the control area, there was no relation between fox track density and turbine proximity. Greater weight should be given to the effects of wind farms on non-flying wildlife than at present. Investors and regulatory authorities should always consider the likely impacts of wind farms during environmental impact assessments and try to reduce these negative effects.
Do Terrestrial Animals Avoid Areas Close to Turbines in Functioning Wind Farms in Agricultural Landscapes?
Title: Do Terrestrial Animals Avoid Areas Close to Turbines in Functioning Wind Farms in Agricultural Landscapes?
June 19, 2017
Journal: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Łopucki, R.; Klich, D.; Gielarek, S. (2017). Do Terrestrial Animals Avoid Areas Close to Turbines in Functioning Wind Farms in Agricultural Landscapes?. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment , 189(7), 343-354.