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Local News

March 20, 2014

Raptor knowledge grows one eagle at a time

A feisty golden eagle dubbed “Greg” is soaring past ridge tops again after being captured by raptor researchers in New Lisbon this week and equipped with a GPS tracking device.

The eagle was the third and final bird to be corralled for the study designed to help researchers better understand the habits and movements of members of the endangered species in upstate New York, research coordinator Tom Salo of the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society said Wednesday.

The research is supported by the University of West Virginia, which has determined that enhancing the understanding of the migration patterns of golden eagles is important as it will help in the siting decisions made for wind farm projects. The raptors can be killed by the spinning blades of a turbine as they tend to scour the ground for prey rather than look for possible obstacles in their flight path.

The golden eagles being monitored for the study nest in Canada and spent winters in upstate New York. The researchers used deer carcasses to lure the eagles before trapping them with delicate nets. The carcasses are from road kill rather than deer shot by hunters, as the eagles would become deathly ill if they ingest any lead. Those GPS devices, smaller than a deck of cards, are tethered to the birds with Teflon straps.

After setting up 10 camera stations this winter, the researchers recorded 17 golden eagles, Salo said.

“Until now, no one has done this kind of detailed look at their habits in New York,” said Salo, adding, “The best place to find golden eagles in New York is Delaware and Otsego counties.”

An estimated 2,000 to 5,000 golden eagles now inhabit the eastern United States, and the population is thought to be growing. A generation ago, he said, it was believed that golden eagles only crossed through New York and wintered in the Appalachian region. The population is thought to be growing.

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