After the recent SOAR newsletter went to press, SOAR received one of those email that you don’t like to ever get… from researcher Trish, “Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m almost 100% certain that Delaware 2 is dead. Based on the activity data, she appears to have died on June 25…” at the location in the photo in the newsletter story about the eagles with transmitters.
Delaware 2’s transmitter was still giving location information, but no activity or movement was being recorded. Sara with USFWS regional office in Moline reached out to colleagues with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR), gave them coordinates, and asked if they could look for her body. WI DNR staff recovered her body and have indicated that a necropsy will be done in an attempt to learn why she died. We’re not sure if her body will be in good enough condition to learn anything, but we’re hopeful. **On 25 September 2017, SOAR learned that, “WI DNR just replied that the carcass is too desiccated and degraded to perform a proper necropsy, so they are now sending it into the national repository. No necropsy report will be available.”
Please take comfort knowing that Delaware 2 had another four months of good flying, hunting, and exploring NE Iowa, SW Minnesota, and WC Wisconsin.
Sara did check on Highlandville for us on 16 August and she replied, “He’s been checking in and downloading over 60 points a day and appears to bouncing around a forested riparian strip along the Minnesota River.” Here is the original post about these eagles getting fit with transmitters.
Highlandville remains part of this eagle tracking study that began in 2014, being jointly conducted with the US Fish & Wildlife Service Moline Field Office, the US Geological Survey, and West Virginia University. Here is more info on that study:
Bald eagle populations have increased dramatically over the past 30 years across North America. The upper Midwest, which houses one of the densest populations of bald eagles in North America, has experienced dramatic increases in the number of breeding and wintering eagles since the 1970s. For example, In 2014, more than 30,000 eagles were recorded by the Army Corp of Engineers winter count at 16 lock and dam locations on the Upper Mississippi. As populations of bald eagles have increased so have conflicts with human activities, especially wind energy development and collision with aircraft. Of particular interest in region 3 are the origins of eagles wintering along the Upper Mississippi, their seasonal migration pathways, their local movements, and a general understanding of the ways that development – wind turbines, power lines, and disturbance – may impact these increasing numbers of eagles. Information about these issues is important because the USFWS is charged with issuing permits for limited take and disturbance to eagles. Permitting such activities requires a reasonable understanding of potential impacts to eagles and thus, an understanding of the basics of local and regional eagle biology.
It is the goal of this project to use modern GPS-GSM telemetry systems to provide information about eagles in the Midwest. Once eagles are telemetered, we will then track their movements locally and on migration regionally. We will use this data to assess the potential impacts of human activities, particular wind energy development, may have on an increasing eagle populations.