Hanging out with Bats is Fun
Getting to the vicinity of “The American Camp”, within the footprint of Bow Lake/ Nodin Kitagan wind farm (BL/NK), requires determination, 4×4, brush hook, dexterity and time to drive cautiously around or through, potholes, washouts and fallen trees distributed generously along a long and winding road; but finding bats is always a delight and is, as it turns out, the easy part, even where there aren’t supposed to be any.
Last year we were able to prove, with monitoring at this and two other locations within the BL/NK footprint, that there are definitely endangered species of bats within striking distance of industrial wind turbines (IWT).
They are still present despite what seems to be an abandonment of the Environmental Review Tribunal’s (ERT) mandated “mitigation” of reduced cut-in speed during the period when bats are most active, although we were not able to confirm they ever actually instituted the protocol since the MNR was unresponsive to LSARC’S request for verification:
From: George Browne
Date: October 13, 2016 10:22:06 PM EDT
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Damage to significant wildlife habitat – painted turtle nesting and basking area
I am writing to bring the damage to a significant wildlife habitat, the nesting area of a population of midland painted turtles, to your attention. The area in question is what used to be a small gravel clearing with small clumps of grass and low brush approximately 50 meters south of the narrows between Bow Lake & Negick Lake, near Montreal River Harbour. This area is significant wildlife habitat not only because it is a turtle nesting area but also because 5 or more midland painted turtles bask on a log at thea narrows. Any basking area habitually with 5 or more turtles is significant wildlife habitat. I have often see 8 or more turtles basking there. The turtle population there may also include eastern painted turtles of a cross between both subspecies. It is difficult to be certain without examining them more closely. This population is also significant because it thrives near the norther extremity of their range.
The damage to the clearing was done at the same time workers, or sub-contractors, for the Nodin Kitigan/Bow Lake Wind project were clearing the ground and cut trees under the project’s transmission line, which runs from the Trim Lake area, across the narrows and up to a transformer station near Montreal River.
Attached are pictures of the area post excavation and grading. Pictures of its condition prior to this are available upon request.
I would also like to take this opportunity to inquire about how the MNRF monitors and enforces the Environmental Review Tribunal mandated and approved mitigation strategy, set in place to protect the bat populations in the area of the wind project. Of special concern are the Myotis lucifugus. What information or reports are submitted to the MNRF by the project? How does the MNRF monitor turbine cut-in speed? What mortality monitoring has been conducted and what were the results?
This year at this monitoring site on the evening of June 18th, an IWT clearly visible on a hill 892 meters distant from the camp was documented as operating at dusk and after nightfall while the bat detector recorded bat activity. Notably the hoary bat Lasiurus cinereus, abbreviated as LASCIN, which is a species which suffers a high mortality rate from IWT encounters.
From the initiation of monitoring to midnight LASCIN dominated, then MYOLUC, the endangered little brown myotis, got busy. The IWT kept turning despite wind speeds below 6m/s.
The opportunity to discover their way of seeing with sound and the conversations these intelligent little mammals may have about life is always a delight we hope never to lose.