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Case 8:09-cv-01519-RWT Document 16-17 Filed 07/10/2009 Page 1 of 8


Affidavit of Thomas H. Kunz, Ph.D.

Case 8:09-cv-01519-RWT Document 16-17 Filed 07/10/2009 Page 2 of 8

United States District Court

for the District of Maryland


Plaintiffs, )
v. ) Civ. No. 09-1519 (RTW)
Defendants. )


1. I am submitting this affidavit in support of plaintiffs’ motion for emergency

injunctive relief. For more than four decades, I have worked professionally as a biologist,

ecologist, and researcher. I received my Bachelors degree in biology in 1961, my Masters degree

in Education in 1962, my Masters degree in Biology in 1968, and my Doctorate in Systematics

and Ecology in 1971. My research areas of interest include behavioral and physiological

ecology, reproductive biology, evolution, and conservation biology of bats. From my extensive

research on bats, I have written or edited six books, and I have authored or co-authored over 200

articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. I am a leading researcher in this field, and I am

frequently invited to participate in conferences, symposia, and panel discussions on issues that

are adversely affecting bat populations in the United States. For example, I recently testified

before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, as part of a joint congressional oversight

hearing about the dire consequences of the rapidly spreading disease known as White Nose

Syndrome and the need for an immediate response to mitigate these consequences. I am a

member of a number of professional organizations including the American Association for the
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Advancement of Science, American Institute for Biological Science, American Society of

Mammalogists, Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative, Ecological Society of America, International

Society for Behavioral Ecology, North American Society for Bat Research, Society for

Conservation Biology, and Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

2. I am currently a Professor of Biology at Boston University, where I teach

undergraduate and graduate courses such as Ecology, Biology of Mammals, and Mammalian

Ecology. In addition, I am the Director of the Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology

(“CECB”), which promotes research opportunities for scientists and students by forging cross-

disciplinary studies and collaboration. At the CECB, our research focuses on roosting behavior

and ecology, physiological ecology, population dynamics, life-history evolution, and

conservation biology of bats. One aspect of our current research examines the ecological role of

bats in both natural and human-altered ecosystems. To facilitate these studies, we have

pioneered the use of thermal infrared imaging to census large bat colonies, investigate roosting

behavior, and quantify the energetics of flight. Most recently, we have begun to assess the

impacts of wind energy development on bat populations using thermal imaging, the causes and

spread of White Nose Syndrome, and the effects of environmental stressors on life-history

characteristics based on assays to assess stress hormones and immune responses. More detailed

information about my research can be found in my curriculum vitae, which is attached as

Attachment A.

3. Bats play a very critical role in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, preying

on mosquitoes and other nocturnal insects. Among the most severe threats facing bats in the

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eastern United States are habitat loss, White Nose Syndrome, and proliferation of poorly sited

industrial wind developments. Habitat loss and degradation as a result of human activity has

been occurring for a long time, but the recent threats of White Nose Syndrome and industrial

wind developments – and particularly the cumulative effects of the two simultaneous threats –

could have especially deleterious effects on a number of bat species in the eastern United States,

including the endangered Indiana bat. This is of special concern in West Virginia because of the

various wind projects currently proposed in the state and the recent acknowledgment of White

Nose Syndrome in multiple West Virginia hibernacula.

4. Some of my recent research has focused on bat mortality as a result of industrial

wind development. Consistent with other scientific data, our findings indicate that migratory

bats “are being killed in unprecedented numbers at wind power facilities in forested regions of

eastern North America.” Jason W. Horn, Edward B. Arnett, & Thomas H. Kunz, Behavioral

Responses of Bats to Operating Wind Turbines, J. Wildlife Mgmt. 72:123-132 (2008)

(Attachment B to the Affidavit of Michael R. Gannon). From our research, it appears that bats

are attracted to wind turbines, leading to a high number of bat mortalities through collisions with

wind turbines or barotrauma. In fact, some of “the most important observations of this study

were those of bats actively investigating both moving and motionless turbine blades.” Id. at 129.

Our “hypothesis to explain this behavior is that bats view these tall structures, standing in open

space, as roost trees . . . [because] [f]orest bats often seek out large trees and snags as desirable

roosting habitat.” Id. As a result, “[t]his curious and exploratory behavior increases the

probability of a collision with a moving blade over random encounters.” Id. at 130.

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Additionally, the creation of open spaces where none existed before presents another mortality

risk to bats, because “[m]odifications to the forested landscape that result[] from construction of

wind energy facilities, including the creation of open space in which turbines are installed and the

linear landscape along access roads, may create favorable foraging grounds for insectivorous

bats.” Id. at 129. Lastly, mountain ridgelines in the eastern United States are particularly

troublesome sites for wind turbines because this type of landscape may serve as migratory

pathways, and “[m]igratory flights also may account for increased bat density around wind farms

as individuals or groups of some species make stopovers to feed, drink, and roost in trees . . .

[and like] resident populations, migrants or groups of bats making stopovers may be similarly

attracted to these areas to feed.” Id.

5. I have reviewed various background material relating to the Beech Ridge

industrial wind facility in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. As described in these materials, the

Beech Ridge project site will include roads, permanent structures, transmission lines, and 124

400-foot wind turbines – all in endangered Indiana bat habitat. As I understand it, there is a

known hibernaculum called Snedegars Cave approximately five to six miles from the nearest

turbine that supports a robust winter population of Indiana bats. I also understand that there are

other hibernacula in the area that support winter populations of Indiana bats, in addition to caves

very near the project site that have served as hibernacula to Indiana bats in the past and still

present ideal characteristics for future winter habitat for the species. Based on the topography

and forest composition of the project site, coupled with the proximity of Indiana bat hibernacula,

it is my opinion that bats, including the Indiana bat, likely use the project site for foraging,

roosting, migration, and related activities. Beech Ridge Energy’s own consultant has

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acknowledged the likely use of the project site by Indiana bats, stating that “[t]he proposed Beech

Ridge site presents potential concerns . . . [because] [i]t is likely [that] Indiana bats are present in

the county during summer . . . [and] [c]onsidering known proximate locations of summer and

winter occurrences of Indiana bats, it is reasonable to presume individuals of the species move

through Greenbrier County in spring and fall,” BHE Environmental, Chiropteran Risk

Assessment, Nov. 9, 2005, at 22 (Attachment B).

6. Because of the placement of the Beech Ridge wind facility both in habitat for

various species including the Indiana bat and along migratory bat flypaths, Beech Ridge Energy

projects the death of 6,746 bats annually. While this is an extremely high number of deaths, it is

my opinion that this figure is likely an underestimate, possibly on the order of only one-half or

one-third of the actual deaths that will occur. It is my understanding that Beech Ridge Energy

based its mortality calculation on extrapolations from bat deaths at the Mountaineer wind project

in Tucker County, West Virginia, where human search efficiency of finding carcasses of dead

bats did not exceed 42% and the search efficiency of trained dogs did not exceed 71%.

Therefore, it is likely that, because of the underestimates of mortality at Mountaineer, the

extrapolations by Beech Ridge are substantially lower than the actual mortality risk presented by

the project. However, even using Beech Ridge Energy’s mortality numbers, nearly 135,000 bat

deaths during a twenty-year period would have a grave impact on bat populations and their


7. It is my opinion that the Beech Ridge wind project will have a number of impacts

on endangered Indiana bats. Regarding such impacts, I specifically note that it is my opinion,

based on my research of bat behavior and wind turbines, that Indiana bats will use the project site

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during spring, summer, and autumn because of their proximity to the site and their affinity for

cleared spaces such as the Beech Ridge turbine sites and transmission corridors, and will likely

investigate both moving and nonmoving turbines to assess their viability as potential roost trees.

These behaviors, coupled with Beech Ridge Energy’s construction and operation activities, will

almost certainly result in mortalities and injuries to Indiana bats. Based on my research, even the

erection of turbines, short of operation, is very problematic because bat collisions with tall

stationary objects are well documented, and Indiana bats will likely familiarize themselves with

nonmoving turbines prior to operation by assessing their suitability as potential roost trees and

determining them safe locations from which to forage, only to return months later during turbine

operation to find rotating blades capable of causing large numbers of Indiana bat deaths and

injuries from collisions and barotrauma. Thus, it is my opinion that, to a high degree of scientific

certainty, construction, turbine erection, and operation of the Beech Ridge industrial wind project

will result in irreparable harm to Indiana bats, as a result of death and injury to members of the

species, as well as the degradation of the Indiana bat’s habitat.

8. Further, it is my opinion that the Beech Ridge wind project will have significant

cumulative impacts in conjunction with White Nose Syndrome, habitat loss, and other industrial

wind developments in the region. While I am of the opinion that wind energy and other

renewable technologies are important to mitigate climate change, I also believe that renewable

energy facilities must be sited responsibly and sustainably. These renewable technologies should

not and cannot come at the cost of creating another environmental crisis by decimating bat

populations and harming ecosystem stability. Thus, particularly in light of the White Nose

Syndrome crisis, I believe that industrial wind companies such as Beech Ridge Energy should be

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evaluating the environmental consequences of their facilities very cautiously – something that I

do not believe occurred with respect to the Beech Ridge wind project. As such, given the grave

situation of the endangered Indiana bat and the species’ likely susceptibility to deaths from

White Nose Syndrome and other industrial wind facilities in the region, the consequent deaths,

injuries, and habitat loss caused by this project will seriously undermine the prospects for the

long-term survival and recovery of the Indiana bat.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the

foregoing is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.


Thomas H. Kunz

Executed on this 7th day of July 2009.