Golden Eagle Winter Feeding

Program at a Glance

Focal Species: Golden Eagle
Study Area: West Desert, Utah, USA

About the Program

Golden Eagles across Utah are starving. Each winter, prey availability becomes limited for Golden Eagles, leaving them to scavenge for carrion. However, the local environment’s ability to support Utah’s resident Golden Eagle population has declined significantly in recent years. HawkWatch International’s innovative Golden Eagle Winter Feeding program is designed to immediately and positively impact Utah’s Golden Eagle population through a dual program combining applied conservation action with long-term research. During the winter of 2021–22, HWI piloted a field effort to place roadkill deer in West Desert Golden Eagle winter hotspots identified by past tracking data. Game cameras placed near roadkill deer captured over 900k images, recording instances of Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, coyotes, ravens, magpies, and sheepdogs, all scavenging from the carcasses. The images revealed aggressive interactions at most carcasses, suggesting that food resources were scarce and that adding more carcasses to those areas would reduce competition between scavengers. Through this program, we can support eagles with supplemental food sources and re-sight color bands from our Long-term Nest Monitoring program to learn more about their survival.

Program Highlights

Carcasses Placed
Images Captured
Color Band Re-sights

Future of the Program

Golden Eagle Supplemental Feeding is an innovative program to evaluate the necessity and effectiveness of providing food to Golden Eagles during times of extreme stressors. In addition, it has considerable potential to sustain local eagle populations and increase breeding productivity while longer-term conservation interventions, such as habitat restoration, take place over the next two-four decades. Ultimately, we anticipate that the collection of rigorous data on the benefits of supplemental feeding could lead to the acceptance of this tool as another form of mitigation for other sources of Golden Eagle mortality, such as for wind turbine collisions.

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Program Partners

The Worst Nesting Season in 40 years

Recent nesting seasons have yielded the worst survival rate for nesting Golden Eagles in Utah in the last four decades. Help us paint a better picture for eagles in the years to come.

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