Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), Environment and Climate Change Canada, ECCC, scientists have participated in a number of studies on the impacts of wind turbines on wildlife in Canada. In 2013, the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology published a special feature called “Quantifying Human-related Mortality of Birds in Canada”. This included nine research papers evaluating the impact of various sources of mortality to birds, together with an introductory overview and a synthesis paper.
A paper in that issue by Zimmerling et al., 2013, studied the impact of wind turbines on birds. They estimated an average of 8.2 birds were killed per turbine per year after correcting for the number of carcasses that would be missed by searchers. Based on 2,955 turbines installed by the end of 2011, they estimated 23,300 birds killed per year across Canada.
Based on data from the Canadian Wind Energy Association, CANWEA, website, by the end of 2022, the installed wind capacity in Canada had increased to about 15,000 megawatts. Assuming average wind turbines are now 2-3 megawatts, this corresponds to about 5,000-7,500 turbines. Thus, if mortality rates remain similar, the number of birds killed would now be estimated at about 62,000 per year.
This number is much lower than the number of birds estimated by Calvert et al., 2013, to be killed by other human-related sources such as 200 million birds per year by domestic and feral cats, 25 million birds per year by power transmission lines, 22 million birds per year by collisions with windows in residential houses and 14 million birds per year by collisions with vehicles.
With regard to part (a)(i), Zimmerling et al., 2013, also reported data on the species composition of birds killed at wind turbines in Canada, based on available data from carcass searches. The most frequently reported species were Horned Lark, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-eyed Vireo, European Starling, and Tree Swallow all of which are abundant species in Canada. There was no evidence that mortality rates for any species were high enough to cause population-level impacts.
With regard to part (a)(ii), in a separate study, Zimmerling and Francis, 2016, estimated the impact of wind turbines in Canada on bats. They estimated an average of 15.5 bats killed per turbine representing about 47,000 bats per year in 2013. If mortality rates remain similar now, that would now represent 75,000-116,000 bats per year based on an estimate of 5,000-7,500 turbines. Most of this mortality occurred for only four species: Hoary Bat, 34%, Silver-haired Bat, 25%, Eastern Red Bat, 15%, and Little Brown Myotis, 13%.
There is growing evidence that mortality rates of bats due to wind turbines may be high enough to be causing population declines. Davy et al., 2020, found evidence of declines in populations of some migratory bat species in Ontario. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, COSEWIC, recently recommended that Hoary Bat, Red Bat and Silver-haired Bat should all be listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act. The reason for designation indicated that populations were declining by more than 50% over three generations, with the major threat the high risk of mortality at wind energy facilities. Please see the following web page: https://www.cosewic.ca/index.php/en-ca/assessment-process/detailed-version-may-2023.html. Portions of the populations of all three species migrate from Canada to the southern United States so they would be exposed to risk of mortality at wind turbines in both countries.
With regard to part (b)(i), ECCC has only participated in limited studies on the impact of wind turbines on wildlife habitat. Zimmerling et al., 2013, estimated habitat loss from wind turbines at about 1.2 hectares per turbine. Extrapolated to the current number of turbines, this would suggest a loss of 6,000-9,000 hectares of wildlife habitat based on estimated number of turbines in 2022. However, this study did not consider habitat loss that may be associated with new roads or transmission lines for turbines installed in remote areas, and data are not currently available on those potential impacts.
With regard to part (b)(ii), ECCC has not undertaken any studies on changes to migration patterns as a result of wind turbines.
Please see the following references: Calvert, A. M., C. A. Bishop, R. D. Elliot, E. A. Krebs, T. M. Kydd, C. S. Machtans, and G. J. Robertson. 2013. A synthesis of human-related avian mortality in Canada. Avian Conservation and Ecology 8(2): 11.
Davy, C.M., K. Squires, and J.R. Zimmerling. 2020. Estimation of spatiotemporal trends in bat abundance from mortality data collected at wind turbines. Conservation Biology 35:227-238.
Zimmerling, J. R., A. C. Pomeroy, M. V. d'Entremont, and C. M. Francis. 2013. Canadian estimate of bird mortality due to collisions and direct habitat loss associated with wind turbine developments. Avian Conservation and Ecology 8(2): 10.
Zimmerling, J. R. & C. M. Francis. 2016. Bat mortality due to wind turbines in Canada. Journal of Wildlife Management, 80: 1360-1369.