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Polar bears are threatened by climate change, and wind power could be part of a larger solution to reduce emissions and save their habitat. But in Vermont, wind power has run afoul of the polar bears’ more plentiful southern cousin: A proposed wind farm in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest threatens key habitat for the state’s black bears.
17 proposed turbines on national forest land would require the cutting of large stands of beech trees, which area bears use for food during critical periods before and after hibernation. U.S. Forest Service researchers back the plan, but Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources claims the construction could severely impact the bruins.
Experts note the dense scars on the beech trees, which indicate their heavy use by bears, who eat massive quantities of beech nuts in addition to using them as scratching posts.
“Based on my experience and that of other department biologists, the density and number of scarred beech trees in the area is unique for the state and unmatched by any other forested area of southern Vermont,” (state wildlife biologist Forrest) Hammond testified.
The public is invited to comment on the Forest Service environmental impact statement through November, after which a formal ruling will be reached.
On a semi-related note: Who would win in an all-out black-bear/polar-bear war? Polar bears are much bigger, sure, but black bears have superior numbers. Hmmm….
— Ted Alvarez
Wind project runs into bear trouble (Burlington Free Press)
Via Wicked Outdoorsy