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Eagle Telemetry
Midwest Region, April 28, 2016
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RIFO and LFWCO staff boat through the chilly waters of the Mississippi River in search of eagles.
RIFO and LFWCO staff boat through the chilly waters of the Mississippi River in search of eagles. - Photo Credit: RIFO
A big gizzard shad is prepared to be sent out as eagle bait.
A big gizzard shad is prepared to be sent out as eagle bait. - Photo Credit: RIFO
LFWCO biologist Kyle Mosel holds a captured eagle prior to release.
LFWCO biologist Kyle Mosel holds a captured eagle prior to release. - Photo Credit: RIFO
WVU and RIFO display the wing span of a captured eagle.
WVU and RIFO display the wing span of a captured eagle. - Photo Credit: RIFO
A map of locations from some of the eagles captured in winter of 2014. Note that some locations are as far north as the Beaufort Sea!
A map of locations from some of the eagles captured in winter of 2014. Note that some locations are as far north as the Beaufort Sea! - Photo Credit: RIFO

Over the past three years the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Rock Island Field Office (RIFO) has collaborated with West Virginia University (WVU) and the U.S. Geological Society to trap and telemeter bald eagles. It is the goal of this project to use modern GPS-GSM telemetry systems to provide information about eagles in the Midwest. To accomplish this goal, we have successfully trapped and telemetered 23 bald eagles to date, and will trap and telemeter approximately 40 additional bald eagles next winter.

The La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) partnered with RIFO during the winter 2015-2016 trapping season. Lacrosse FWCO staff provided beneficial skills and equipment which contributed to the project’s success including: sturdy boats, boat operation, bait fish harvesting, and working up the fish from gutting through snare attachment. The combined expertise resulted in the capture of 11 additional bald eagles. While FWS rightfully focuses on interagency partnerships, far too often we don’t combine resources between programs within our agency. We hope to continue the FWCO-RIFO partnership into the Asian carp world, the mussel world, and beyond!

Once eagles are telemetered, we will track their movements locally as well as regionally during migration. We will use these data to assess the potential impacts that human activities, particularly wind energy development, may have on increasing eagle populations. The final deliverables will include a project report, as well as extensive maps showing local and regional movements of eagles in the context of wind energy development. USFWS biologists will collaborate with WVU on a peer reviewed scientific article. That is expected to be published in later this year.

This original research will answer questions previously not known to science due to limitations of older telemetry systems. It is the opinion of the authors that this research will serve as a guiding document to wind energy developers and the USFWS, attempting to avoid and minimize impact to eagles in Region 3.


Contact Info: Nicholas Bloomfield, 608-783-8441, Nicholas_Bloomfield@fws.gov
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