Study: Geese learn to avoid wind farms

Aug. 13, 2012 at 6:29 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Migrating geese appear to have learned to avoid offshore wind farms when returning to the United Kingdom, a study suggests.

Researchers from Britain's Food and Environment Research Agency monitoring the movement of pink-footed geese over four years say they have detected changes in flight patterns around two newly erected wind farms.

The findings suggest this species of geese, at least, has identified wind farms as a threat and alter their flight to avoid the spinning turbine blades, the researchers said.

The finding has contradicted the assumption that because geese have relatively limited maneuverability in flight and often migrate at night, there was a substantial threat of colliding with wind turbines.

The researchers conclude at least some species of wildlife will be able to adapt to Britain's development of alternative energy sources, but not everyone agrees

Lucy Wright of the British Trust for Ornithology, who was not involved with the research, said the study was limited.

"It only measures the avoidance behavior of one species at two neighboring wind farms and we don't know how the results would differ for other species or at other sites," she told BBC News.

"As the authors point out, we need more studies like this that measure how well other bird species can avoid wind turbines at a range of sites."

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