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Golden eagles studied by satellite
Date:10/25/2010

Large-scale wind farm establishment may have a negative effect on Sweden's golden eagles. In a unique project in northern Sweden, scientists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) are trapping adult golden eagles and fitting them with satellite transmitters.

The satellite transmitters emit a signal once an hour during the daytime. These signals provide the scientists with a picture of how the birds use the landscape.

"Hopefully we can identify the golden eagles' favourite habitats. When we've done that we can see where wind farms can be established without disturbing the eagles," says project manager Tim Hipkiss at SLU's Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies.

The potential risks with wind farms are that the birds collide with the rotor blades and lose valuable hunting habitat.

Up to now the scientists have fitted transmitters on to six eagles. The goal is twenty adult eagles from ten territories, five where wind farms are planned and five without wind farms (reference areas). The project is estimated to run for long enough for the scientists to monitor the eagles during wind farm establishment. Most of the sites are in Vsterbotten county in northern Sweden.

"Trapping adult golden eagles alive has never been done before in Sweden, and probably nowhere else in Europe. This is unique, and most people thought we wouldn't succeed," says Tim Hipkiss.

SLU's scientists have acquired the assistance of some of the world's leading experts in this field, from USA, where it is more common to trap birds of prey as part of conservation projects.

The trapping is carried out by the scientists placing out carrion at feeding sites a few weeks in advance, so that the eagles get used to finding food there. After this the American experts conceal a net trap and erect a hide a small distance from the net.

"Then you just have to wait patiently in the hide. When the eagle land
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Contact: Ulla Ahlgren
Ulla.Ahlgren@adm.slu.se
46-706-623-107
Swedish Research Council
Source:Eurekalert  

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