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Updated US policy permits accidental bald eagle death via wind turbine

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wind turbine (SHUTTERSTOCK)
wind turbine (SHUTTERSTOCK)

Wind farms that inadvertently kill federally protected bird species, including bald and golden eagles, are getting a reprieve as part of a new permit policy laid out by the Obama administration today. Under the new system, companies with wind farms can kill or injure a number of these birds as long as they report those incidents, something the Associated Press says has long gone unreported, and without prosecution. Those permits will also be tougher to get revoked, something designed to encourage energy companies to more accurately report deaths.

Birds get distracted, then it's too late

Eagles and other birds will stop paying attention to where they're flying while looking for food, and can accidentally get sucked into the fast spinning turbine blades, the AP says. A three-month-old scientific study suggested some 67 bald and golden eagles have been killed like this by wind farms since 2008, which is a small portion of the some 70,000 birds believed to live worldwide. Though according to the AP, the frequency of the deaths could increase given the push for more wind energy within the US.

The new permit system is slated to run for the next 30 years. Companies must also renew existing permits every five years, and face limits on how many birds are killed.