Biologist says Peregrine falcons have recovered

A Thunder Bay biologist is dismissing concerns a wind farm on the Nor'wester Escarpment would threaten the survival of the peregrine falcon.

Proposed wind farms won't present 'any threat or danger to them'

Peregrine falcons have recovered enough as a species that a proposed wind farm should not present any danger to them, a Thunder Bay professor says. (istockphoto.com)

A Thunder Bay biologist is dismissing concerns a wind farm on the Nor’wester Escarpment would threaten the survival of peregrine falcons.

Mitch Taylor, a professor at Lakehead University, said peregrines in Ontario have fully recovered from the effects of a synthetic insecticide known as DDT, and the population is booming.

Taylor said protective restrictions in Neebing township are unnecessary — and so are concerns about windmills.

"I think there probably will be some peregrines whacked by the blades and killed, and there's an ethical issue there," he said.

"But from a population or demographic standpoint, I don't think the mortality on peregrines from windmills presents any threat or danger to them."

Taylor, who lives on the outskirts of Thunder Bay, near the future site of Horizon Wind's proposed wind farm, will give a presentation tomorrow in Toronto. He will ask the provincial government to lift the "species at risk" designation for peregrines. Taylor will appear before the committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario, on behalf of the Municipality of Neebing's Environmental Advisory Committee.

'They've been booming'

He said the peregrine population has seen steady growth over the last 25 years.

"There was a long period of reintroduction starting back in the 70s actually," he said. "From my perspective, peregrines are a recovered species."

He noted that, once the DDT was cleaned up, peregrines came back and "essentially they've been booming ever since. Local residents say they've never seen so many peregrine falcons."

In February, Horizon Wind was formally advised by the Ministry of Natural Resources district office in Thunder Bay that its Big Thunder Wind Project is likely to harm, harass or kill peregrine falcons. In September, Linda Jeffrey, then Minister of Natural Resources, wrote a letter regarding the proposed project to Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro.

She wrote that "…based on the material provided to me by the Ministry, as well as my knowledge of the project location, I don't know how the proponent could satisfy the conditions to allow my Ministry to issue a permit to allow the project to proceed.

"I have serious concerns about the effect the proposed project could potentially have on the recovery of Peregrine Falcons in Ontario. I am not prepared to issue a permit at this time, nor do I understand how a permit could be issued for this site."