According to the interim result of an EU research project, the supposed endangerment of the red kite, which is often brought forward as a reason for lawsuits against the construction of wind turbines, does not exist. Dying on a wind turbine is "an extremely rare event for the bird of prey, really extremely rare," said Rainer Raab, the researcher responsible for the study, for the ZDF magazine "Frontal".
Raab has been collecting data on the red kite for the EU Commission for two years. His team equipped the birds with GPS transmitters to determine the cause of death in the event of death. The researchers found and examined around 700 dead red kites. "The most common cause of man-made death is poison," said Raab. For example, when red kites eat dead rats or mice that have died on poisoned baits.
Traffic, shooting down and electrocution as causes of death
Road traffic is the second leading cause of death. The animals would die "on any highway or expressway," Raab said. Other reasons are the shooting of the birds and electric shocks from power lines.
"Next comes something really bizarre," Raab continued, "that they are hit by trains." And even more rarely than by trains, red kites would die from wind turbines: "under also ran," according to the scientist.
The red kite is particularly common in Germany; its endangerment is regularly used as an argument against the construction or expansion of wind turbines. Raab disagrees with this danger. "The rule is that the red kites can move around the wind farm for 1,000 hours without flying against it."
Wildlife Foundation criticizes wind power expansion
Most recently, the German Wildlife Foundation had criticized the planned expansion of wind energy. The foundation had announced that the goals of climate protection minister Robert Habeck would lead to collisions with species protection. "In Germany, around 250,000 bats and thousands of birds of prey fall victim to wind turbines every year," said the foundation's chairman, Klaus Hackländer, who referred to a study from 2021.
The particularly endangered species included the common noctule bat – a species of bat – and birds of prey such as the red kite, as well as lesser spotted eagles, white-tailed eagles and golden eagles. Climate protection and species protection should not be played off against each other.
Among other things, the foundation called for no wind turbines to be built in forests, on the edges of forests or in nature reserves. Before the construction of the plants, the operators should ensure that nature conservation goals do not conflict with the use of wind energy. There should be no exemption from the Federal Nature Conservation Act for wind turbines.