Dr. Brock Fenton was questioned by Sylvia Davis, counsel for the MOECC (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change).
Ms. Davis referred Dr. Fenton to his witness statement for the Fairview wind project where he states that the months of the highest activity level for the Little brown bat are August and September. Dr. Fenton indicated that while he believes this to be true there is some bat activity throughout the year and it would be nice to know that we’re reducing the risk to these bats. One of the things that has changed in our knowledge of bats is the extent to which they are active other times of the year and it is becoming more and more evident that Little brown bats are active year-round. The Lausen and Barclay study (2006) in Alberta revealed that bats, even in the dead of a prairie winter, are out flying around. And nobody would have believed that, before that study.
Dr. Fenton noted that the Renewable Energy Approval proposes that the bat season is from May 1 to September 30 but no rationale for those dates are given. Dr. Fenton explained that it no longer makes sense to hold certain ideas, such as the idea that you only have to worry about bats around wind turbines until midnight and the idea that it’s only May to September. Data is now showing that this is not the case. For someone who’s saying we only have to worry about bats being at risk from turbines from the 1st of May is misleading, because, in fact, there is bat activity throughout the whole winter.
Dr. Fenton agreed with Ms. Davis that the studies that he cited can only give data on activity levels and that there’s no indication from these studies of population levels. However Dr. Fenton went on to add that there’s another side of the coin where there are endangered species like Little Brown bats:
You see the other side of that coin, though, is that from the point of view of threat posed by a turbine, a bat that is flying around a turbine is likely, very likely, they get taken out. And that doesn’t matter whether it’s a January bat or a March bat or an August bat. So if what we’re concerned about is the threat to an endangered species, then I think that it’s better to be cautious and try to prevent little brown bats, for example, from being exposed to turbines.
On being asked if he has ever personally done a study on the effects of wind turbines on bats Dr. Fenton indicated that he has not.
In re-examination Eric Gillespie, legal counsel for APPEC, asked Dr. Fenton if he could produce a copy of a paper that he referred to during cross-examination. Ms. Davis said that she would object to the admission of this paper unless Dr. Fenton could produce it now. Dr. Fenton was unable to locate a copy after a short break but has agreed to undertake to provide it.