Bird and bat mortality monitoring protocols specify searching a 50 metre radius from the centre of the turbine column.
As can be seen from the photos below, this turbine pad extends only 8 metres behind the turbine and 12 metres to the left before encountering a vertical rock wall which is surmounted by dense forest and brush that falls away steeply on the back side.
To the right there is approximately 25 metres of gravel which ends at a 30 degree slope of loose mixed blast rock and gravel. To the front the gravel extends approximately 40 metres before it narrows and becomes the access road to this turbine location.
In effect of the required 7, 854 square metres of searchable area, only approximately 3,000 square metres are properly searchable.
Only 38.2% of the required area!
Is pro-rating the number of carcasses found in the searchable area a legitimate method of estimating the mortality in other non-searchable sectors? Where is the research to support this?
It is likely that, given the predominant wind direction in the area, carcass distribution is not evenly distributed around the base of the turbine. Therefore, coupled with the high scavenger rates in the area mortality at this and other similarly located turbines in this project will be under-reported.
Mortality to endangered bats will be almost impossible to monitor in these conditions. Just imagine trying to find a Little Brown bat carcass, brown in colour, typically 6–10 cm (2.4–3.9 in) long and weighing 5–14 grams (0.2–0.5 oz), while struggling through the dense brush and trees growing on the 30 degree slope shown in the photograph of this turbine…
Mortality monitoring protocols appear to be more of a suggestion than a requirement… merely flexible standards to give the impression of rigour and science while going through the motions.
But then precise mortality monitoring isn’t the primary goal, in fact the less mortality found the better…