DRECP Spotlight: Bats

According to the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), a full build-out of the anticipated wind energy target in the California desert region would kill from 4,000 to 283,000 bats each year (page IV.7-273).   This estimate assumes 2,023 turbines would be installed in development focus areas in the western Mojave, Lucerne Valley, Chocolate Mountains and Imperial Valley.

The wide range in the bat death estimate - a spread of over 270,000 - shows just how little we know about how renewable energy in the desert will impact bats.  The wind industry does not always cooperate with independent studies on wildlife impacts, and the industry funds the American Wind Wildlife Institute to shape the public discussion on this topic in a way that is favorable to industry.
The moon sets in the western Mojave desert during the early dawn hours.  I don't have my own picture of a bat because I'm not that good of a photographer.
I have not seen any information in the DRECP that states whether bat populations in the California desert could even survive mortality in the middle range of this estimate.  If the industry kills 100,000 bats each year for the next 25 years, will bats be able to maintain healthy populations?  What would be the breaking point for various bat species in the desert?  Could we see local extirpation of bats in the western Mojave and Chocolate Mountains?  The DRECP proposes to monitor bat populations after implementation of the DRECP, but it is not clear whether steps will be taken to curtail industry operations if bat populations spiral downward. 

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