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Environmental Tribunal discusses acceptable kill rates of endangered bats

The species most devastated by white nose syndrome are Little Brown Bats, Northern long-eared bats and Tri-colored bats. The COSEWIC called for the listing of the three as endangered. Nancy Heaslip photo NYSDEC

The species most devastated by white nose syndrome are Little Brown Bats, Northern long-eared bats and Tri-colored bats. The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario called for the listing of the three as endangered. Nancy Heaslip photo NYSDEC

By Cheryl Anderson
Dr. Robert Barclay presented evidence about bats via a video conference from Calgary on Thursday, in the continuation of the Ostrander Point Environmental Tribunal appeal of the Ministry of Environment’s approval of Gilead Power’s turbine project on the south shore of Prince Edward County.

Myrna Wood, of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, (PECFN) listened in on the teleconference. Her report follows:
“Dr. Barclay started his testimony with a clear and simple statement. Sarah Kromkamp, lawyer for the MOE, asked him questions about his various studies which did not seem to lead anywhere at all. Gilead’s lawyer (It was hard on the telephone to be sure whether it was Mr. Hamilton or Mr. Grey) tried to muddy the waters by raising questions about which bat species actually migrated.  This was in response to Dr. Barclay quoting Stantec’s figures on “unidentified” species.  Grey attempted to make him agree that many of those were really Brown Bats. The lawyer pointed out that the map Barclay had seen did not include the placement of the turbines.  Barclay replied that if they are on the shoreline it would be the most dangerous for the bats.  His studies show the bats follow the shoreline to avoid flying over the lake. Three of Gilead’s turbines are proposed along the shoreline.

“Grey attempted to introduce a new document by email to Dr. Barclay in Calgary.  The document did not arrive and Mr. Gillespie, PECFN’s lawyer, stepped in to argue against introducing evidence in this fashion. Mr. Gillespie then asked Dr. Barclay several simple, direct questions giving him the opportunity to clear up whether the types of species would have changed his conclusions.

“Tribunal co-chair Heather Gibbs asked perceptive questions:  First she quoted Stantec’s report that there are no bat species at risk.  Dr. Barclay answered that was true when the report was written, but since then the emergence of white nose syndrome had caused the decline of two bat species resulting in an emergency posting as ‘Endangered’, by the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO).  One of the bats listed, the Little Brown Bat, is one of the most common bats. To have it designated as Endangered is astonishing.

“Second question: Dr Barclay had mentioned to the MOE lawyer he did not agree with Ontario Bat Guidelines for Industrial Wind Turbine projects (which they cut off immediately) so Ms. Gibbs asked him why?  He answered that the allowable threshold of killing seven bats per year per turbine was inadequate.  With the numbers of turbines growing exponentially in North America, the cumulative effects of such a high fatality rate, on top of the effects of white nose syndrome, will cause harm to the species at the population level.  He also mentioned that with all the projects planned for the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the South Shore of Prince Edward County that the cumulative kill rate would be unacceptable.  He used the analogy of hunting regulations where a hunter is allowed a set number of ducks, but the number of hunters is also controlled.

“Tribunal co-chair Robert Wright followed up on the cumulative effects and asked about acceptable kill rates in other jurisdictions.  Dr. Barclay said that the BC threshold is seven bats per turbine per year.  In Hawaii it is one and in West Virginia it is three bats per turbine per year.  In many US states, the threshold numbers are vague, or there are no numbers.”

The hearing continues on March 18 and then on March 25-2.

Impacts of White-Nose Syndrome on North America’s Bats, by Lesley Hale, Science and Information Branch, Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough

Ministry of Natural Resources report on Bat Hibernation and Hibernacula:




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  1. Dayton Johnson says:

    Lots of facts and figures here as always- ho-hum- but haven’t seen much emphasis on the real cost to the consumer in the projected increase of electrical bills each month. Who else but us will pay for backup gas plants,cover the costs of each turbine, new transmission lines etc.. And don’t think an estimate will even come close…always, always “cost overruns” When in need buy our power from Quebec or Manitoba and put our money on new ways to harness rivers,tides, waterfalls. What’s the big rush to cram as many turbines into Ontario as possible. Backtrack to the money source.

  2. Suzanne Lucas says:

    Thank-you Cheryl, for keeping us updated. The testimony from the experts PECFN have brought to this tribunal is very interesting, and reminds us how fragile our natural heritage is.
    Donna, it would be helpful if you could let us know what credentials you have on this subject. Will you get a chance to bring your findings to the tribunal?

  3. Donna says:

    Gilead’s lawyer was right in asking which bats were migratory since these are the ones that are most affected by wind turbines.

    “Following the shoreline” would need to be clarified. From the map the proposed turbine site closest to the shore appears to be 1/2 km away.

    Stantec’s Acoustic Bat Monitoring Report indicated that: “the majority of bat flight in the Study Area is occurring at lower elevations, below wind turbine blade sweep height.”

    It may be a moot point since White-nose Syndrome has killed more than 5.7 MILLION BATS since it was discovered in a single New York cave in February 2006. 9 bat species in 21 U.S. states and 4 Canadian provinces have now been documented as having the syndrome.

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