Fact check: Do wind turbines kill 750,000 birds a year?

Alex Crees
By Alex Crees

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made a claim at a Houston energy conference that wind turbines kill as many as 750,000 birds a year, echoing previous statements made by President Trump.

“We probably chop us as many as 750,000 birds a year with wind, and the carbon footprint on wind is significant,” Zinke said in a speech Tuesday at the CERAWeek energy conference. “I always thought the best place for wind was on the roof of a house.”

But is it true?

No, according to Axios, who says the figure is exaggerated beyond nearly all published estimates.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the number of annual bird deaths due to wind turbines is around 500,000.

Furthermore, turbines only account for a small fraction of human-related causes of bird deaths.

Glass on buildings, for example, accounts for an average of 599 million bird deaths annually, according to a 2015 study published in the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics.  Car collisions account for nearly 200 million avian deaths per year.

Birds are also killed in other forms of energy production, according to Time.  A 2012 Bureau of Land Management memo estimated between 500,000 to 1 million birds die annually in oil fields.

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