Under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal, outlined in a draft environmental report released Thursday, the Shiloh IV Wind Project would be issued a golden eagle take permit for its 3,500-acre plant in the Montezuma Hills, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The plan would allow the company's 50 wind turbines to kill as many as five golden eagles in a five-year period in exchange for measures to protect the birds, including retrofitting 133 power poles to prevent electrocutions, the Chronicle said.
"The bottom line is a permit will help preserve eagles," said Scott Flaherty, the deputy assistant regional director of external affairs for the Fish and Wildlife Service. "I think it really does set a precedent. It shows the service can work with wind energy companies ... and ensure that we conserve eagles and other wildlife."
The report, currently in a 45-day public comment period, analyzed four alternatives, including the possibility of denying the permit application, the Chronicle said.
The Chronicle said about eight eagles a year are killed at the four Shiloh plants.
Eric Davis, FWS assistant regional director for migratory birds and state programs, said investigations of bird deaths have begun and have been turned over to the Department of Justice, but there haven't been any prosecutions under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
"There is no law out there that says this project requires a take permit, [but] eagles are protected," Davis said. "If they did not receive a permit, they could build the project and they would be in compliance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act until the first eagle was taken. Then they would be subject to enforcement action."