Golden Eagle Relocated to WY Informs Biologists

By William H. Clay, Deputy Administrator, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services

Eagle Image Credit: USDA, Wildlife-Services
Image Credit: USFWS

Image Credit: USFWS

Wildlife Services often partners with other federal agencies. Last August, when WS qualified airport wildlife biologists Ben Allen and Justin Crump captured a golden eagle that was threatening (and threatened by) aircraft operations at Denver International Airport, they knew just who to call. Brian W. Smith, CWB® and a US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) migratory bird specialist, who regularly attends WS Wildlife Hazard Committee meetings for the airport. He is studying the movements and mortality factors of golden eagles.

Image Credit: USDA Wildlife Services

Image Credit: USDA Wildlife Services

WS regularly captures raptors as part of trap-and-relocate efforts to reduce both aircraft strikes and the need for lethal control. An eagle can do major damage to an airplane, and could even down an aircraft if ingested into an engine during takeoff. Fortunately, vigilance and action kept this bird out of harm’s way.

Eagle

Image Credit: USDA Wildlife Services

With the sub-adult in hand, WS offered Smith the bird for tagging with a geotracking unit. This not only boosted Smith’s sample size, but also provided an opportunity to evaluate an eagle’s response to a trap-and-relocate scenario. Tagged and released on public lands near the CO/WY line, the bird has been providing great data ever since — from the Laramie Valley, having not returned to the mile-high city.

Eagle

Image Credit: USDA Wildlife Services

At the Denver airport, WS trapped and relocated 191 raptors in 2014. WS and its National Wildlife Research Center biologists relocate raptors for aviation safety and also monitor the impacts of relocating raptors from airports. Over the past decade, they have relocated more than 10,000 eagles, hawks and other raptors nationwide in the interest of aviation safety and for raptor protection, an effort recognized with the 2014 Presidential Award for Migratory Bird Stewardship.

Wildlife Services is a strategic partner of The Wildlife Society