Using “incidental take” as a euphemism for “accidentally chopped to pieces”, the owners of Pine Tree Wind Farm all but admit it could be lethal for California Condors, a species of which only an estimated 500 individuals remain.
“We have received an application from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (applicant) for an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq. ). The application addresses the potential take of the federally endangered California condor (condor), incidental to otherwise lawful activities at the Pine Tree Wind Farm (project), as described in the applicant’s draft conservation plan. The project began operations in 2009 and is within the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area in the eastern foothills of the southern Sierra Nevada in Kern County, California.
“Section 9 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1538) and Federal regulations promulgated pursuant to section 4(d) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1533) prohibit the take of endangered species without special exemption. Under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539), we may issue permits to authorize take of listed fish and wildlife species that is incidental to, and not the purpose of, carrying out an otherwise lawful activity. Regulations governing permits for endangered and threatened species are set forth in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at part 17, sections 17.22 and 17.32.
“The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. ) requires Federal agencies to analyze their proposed actions to determine whether the actions may significantly affect the human environment. In the NEPA analysis, the Federal agency will identify the effects, as well as possible mitigation for effects on environmental resources, that could occur with the implementation of the proposed action and alternatives. The Federal action in this case is the Service’s proposed issuance of an incidental take permit for the federally [critically] endangered California condor.”
The California condor is a New World vulture and the largest North American land bird. It became extinct in the wild in 1987 when all remaining wild individuals were captured, but has since been reintroduced to northern Arizona and southern Utah (including the Grand Canyon area and Zion National Park), the coastal mountains of central and southern California, and northern Baja California in Mexico. Although four other fossil members are known, it is the only surviving member of the genus Gymnogyps. The species is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as Critically Endangered.
California condors have the largest wingspan of any North American bird [up to 10 ft]. They are surpassed in both body length and weight only by the trumpeter swan and the introduced mute swan. The American white pelican and whooping crane also have longer bodies than the condor. Condors are so large that they can be mistaken for a small, distant airplane, which possibly occurs more often than that they are mistaken for other bird species.”