To predict and evaluate the effects of permitted take on eagles the Service needs to understand:
- Basic dynamics of eagle populations
- Factors that influence changes in population dynamics
- Levels of risk an action may pose to eagles
Information from ongoing research improves predictions about how different activities affect individual eagles, when take is likely to occur, and what levels of impact have a significant effect on eagle populations.
This information allows the Service to make better decisions about bald and golden eagle management actions, including the amount of take that can be authorized.
USFWS Eagle Research Efforts
The Service works closely with the U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies to support research on:
- Eagle population status and dynamics
- Eagle distributions and movements
- Causes and relative significance of mortality
- Development of models for predicting eagle fatalities at utility-scale wind facilities
- Impact of fatalities on eagle populations
Examples of specific research projects include:
Golden eagle population estimate and status review
This work uses updated data from two independent surveys to examine size and trends of the golden eagle population in the western U.S. over time. Results could be used to update allowable take thresholds.
Eagle dispersal study
This reassessment of band recovery data examines the distances eagles travel from their hatch sites across the U.S. and could be used to update analyses of local-scale impacts of projects.
Golden eagle satellite study
Satellite tracking provides excellent information on eagle movements, survival, and mortality. Initial data suggest that golden eagles move greater distances and more often than previously thought. This work helps to establish more accurate eagle management units, and will also provide unbiased information on sources of eagle mortality to improve population models and management efforts.
Adaptive management framework for wind energy permitting
Several efforts are underway to predict eagle fatalities at proposed wind facilities, and then to update predictive models with actual data after facilities are constructed.
These and other important research efforts can be used to update and improve the studies that were conducted as part of the Final Environmental Assessment far the 2009 eagle permit regulations.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Eagle Research Funds
The Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have established two new funds to support eagle research: a National Bald and Golden Eagle Research Fund and a Mojave and Sonoran Desert Fund. Each fund will have an advisory committee of federal, state, and private individuals to select and fund eagle research projects.