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Bald eagle death could mean a new look at wind turbine siting rules

The discovery of a dead bald eagle at a western North Dakota wind farm has prompted a member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission to wonder whether the rules for siting wind farms need to be tweaked.

The bird was found this summer at the Bison One wind farm on Mercer County.

"May particular concern is to make sure we understand what we should be doing in cases going forward on siting these wind farms, to make sure we don't cause problems for these eagles," said Commissioner Brian Kalk. "The death of a bald eagle is unacceptable."

Kalk says the company – Allete – has been working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the actual cause of the eagle’s death. And he says the PSC should meet with Fish and Wildlife to look at the siting rules.

"What should we be considering when we have an eagle's nest," said Kalk. "How far do they roam? What are their feeding habits? What should we do -- put a turbine one mile away from the nest? What do the experts say?"

Kalk says the PSC has reopened its hearing on the Rollette wind farm – because there are three eagles’ nests close to the project area. He says those nests are not in the project's footprint -- but may be too close for comfort.

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