ESI Energy Services Inc., a wind energy company based out of the U.S., Canada and Australia, will have to pay more than $8 million in fines for the death of over 150 bald eagles, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Charges pressed against ESI Energy: ESI was charged with and pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

  • The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed in 1918 in order to protect migratory bird species outlined in an international treaty between the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Russia.
  • ESI also admitted that 150 bald and golden eagles have died at the fault of their equipment since 2012, according to the Department of Justice.
  • Usually, companies avoid being penalized under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act if they seek to avoid bird deaths and file permits if those deaths do occur, according to AP News.
  • “For more than a decade, ESI has violated those laws, taking eagles without obtaining or even seeking the necessary permit. We are pleased to see ESI now commit to seeking such permits and ultimately ceasing such violations,” said Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, per the Department of Justice.

How did the eagles die? According to the Department of Justice, 136 of the bald eagle deaths have been attributed to the eagle being struck by a wind turbine blade.

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  • “The birds are killed when they fly into the blades of wind turbines. Some ESI turbines killed multiple eagles and because the carcasses are not always found, officials said the number killed was likely higher than the 150 birds cited by prosecutors in court documents,” according to AP.
  • The birds died in eight states: Wyoming, California, New Mexico, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois, reported AP.
  • Researchers told AP News that “more than 2,000 golden eagles are killed annually due to human causes, or about 60% of all deaths.” These fatality numbers will likely increase, due to the development of wind energy.

How much money does ESI have to pay? ESI will likely have to pay more than $30 million in total for these incidents, according to the Department of Justice.

  • The company owes $6,210,991 in restitution over a five-year probation period.
  • During the probation, ESI will also have to dedicate $27 million to bald eagle preservation efforts.
  • They will also be required $29,623 per bald or golden eagle death in the future.