Secretary Zinke Overestimates Wind Power’s Impact on Birds, Downplays Fossil Fuel’s Risks

Wind turbines do kill birds, but oil, gas and climate change pose a much larger threat.

WASHINGTON —In a speech to oil and gas executives at the CERAweek Conference, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke argued that wind power had a similar carbon footprint than oil and gas power, and also that wind power kills 750,000 birds per year. In response to these erroneous statements, the National Audubon Society issued the following response:

“Wind turbines kill an estimated 140,000 to 328,000 birds each year, but the biggest threat to birds is climate change. More than half of the bird species in North America could lose at least half of their current ranges by 2080 due to rising temperatures,” said Garry George, Audubon’s director of renewable energy.

“A speedy transition toward a carbon-free economy that includes responsibly-sited and operated renewables is the best way to protect birds and the places they need. That future also requires the effective implementation of landmark conservation laws like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.”

Audubon strongly supports properly-sited and operated wind and solar power as renewable energy sources that help reduce the threats posed to birds and people by climate change. However, Audubon also believes wind farms and solar installations, like all forms of energy development, can and should be properly sited and operated in ways that minimize harm to federally-protected species. Audubon advocates that wildlife agencies fully implement existing wildlife protection laws such as the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.

To read the complete National Audubon Society position on wind power, please click here.

To read about the threat posed to birds by climate change, please visit

The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at and @audubonsociety.

Contact: Nicolas Gonzalez,, 212-979-3068.