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United States

US government unveils voluntary bird death guidelines

UNITED STATES: The US federal government has finally unveiled voluntary guidelines to help wind developers minimise the impact of onshore projects on wildlife such as golden eagles, bats and desert tortoises.

A golden eagle
A golden eagle

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) developed the crucial guidelines over the last five years in collaboration with stakeholders such as the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and National Audubon Society, the US's largest bird conservation group.

The guidelines lay out how, during the pre-construction phase, developers should work with the FWS to identify and avoid and minimise risks to birds and animals "of concern" by choosing low-risk sites.

During post-construction, developers are then shown how to gauge whether their plan has worked and, when necessary, guided on how to assess any additional steps they should take.

According to the guidelines, it's crucial that developers contact FWS as early as possible so that the best decisions can be made for a project's siting, construction, and operation.

If developers stick to the new guidelines, they are unlikely to be prosecuted under federal law when birds are killed, said Dan Ashe, director of the FWS, at a news conference in Washington DC, according to Associated Press.

AWEA CEO Denise Bode said rapid training in implementation of the new standards should allow the US wind sector to continue to grow rapidly.

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