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Keywords:

  • bird fatalities;
  • camera traps;
  • carcass persistence trial;
  • fatality rate estimates;
  • scavenger removal trial;
  • searcher detection trial;
  • wind turbine collisions

Abstract

Trials involving volitionally placed carcasses are often used to estimate the portion of the collision-caused fatality population that is undetected by periodic fatality searches at wind turbines. Huso and Erickson criticized our paper reporting on a comparison of carcass persistence rates between what we termed conventional versus novel approaches to these trials. In our novel approach, we measured carcass persistence rates by placing only 1–2 fresh carcasses per week, instead of the typical 10 or more carcasses at a time, often using found carcasses of unknown time since death. Huso and Erickson directed most of their critique to this novel aspect of our approach, although the novelty of our approach also included the use of event-triggered camera traps, which we used to record exact times of removals and to identify vertebrate scavenger species responsible for the removals. In our replies to Huso and Erickson's major criticisms, we acknowledge flaws in our field methods for arriving at fatality rate estimates, but we also point out the larger flaws in the methods used by Huso and Erickson, especially in their use of mean days to removal as a measure of carcass persistence. We conclude by introducing a more appropriate detection trial, which combines searcher detection and scavenger removal trials, and integrates this detection trial into periodic fatality monitoring. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.