Pennsylvania Game News - February 2012 - 13
TRAIL CAMERAS set up to record golden eagle migration patterns “trapped” far more than just eagles visiting the bait site. On the following pages is just a small sample of the more than 10,000 trail cam photos, snapshots into forest life in the “dead” of winter.
N A WILDLIFE OPENING somewhere in the Tuscarora State Forest a trap is set. The bait is visible from the air yet the trap is perfectly legal. It’s set to target a single animal, but it does not discriminate. It will catch any species that ventures too close. Many of its victims will not even know they were caught, and every one will go free. Baited with roadkilled deer, the trap waits day and night from January through April. It is waiting right now and it is not the only one. Across the eastern United States throughout the Appalachians, nearly 60 traps just like it wait. What they are waiting for may surprise you. In late autumn, golden eagles migrate into the United States from Canada. The population of the eastern golden eagle is not well known, but it is estimated to number between 1,000 and 2,000 birds. Their genetic similarity to western populations is unknown. A study is underway to better understand North America’s largest bird of prey, and the trap is part of that study. The motivation for the study has a great deal to do with wind turbines. In recent years, the push for “cleaner” and “greener” energy has
DCNR Forest Ranger Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officer
increased dramatically. Wind energy in the form of turbines placed on mountain ridges has the potential to negatively impact golden eagle populations. Birds and bats collide with turbine blades causing injury and death. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, there are 5,400 wind turbines in California’s Altamont Pass that kill up to 116 golden eagles, 300 red-tailed hawks 380 burrowing owls, along with hundreds of other raptors. The proper placement of wind energy resources can help avoid these types of conflicts. Of course, knowing the behavior of these birds is the key to proper placement. A central goal of the study is to develop a map that will show areas of high and low risks to birds from turbines.