Golden Eagle Winter Feeding
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.
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.
Looking for More Information?
Here’s How You Can Help
Report Banded Eagles: If you’ve seen a color-banded eagle in our study area, report the sighting here.
Switch Your Shot: Eagles can pass lead onto their nestlings through contaminated prey taken down via lead shot. Switch to non-lead ammunition instead.
Report Roadkill: If you spot roadkill, report it to your local Department of Transportation. If you live in Utah, you can report roadkill via the app made by UDOT and UDWR here.
Never Bait Raptors: Feeding birds can lead them to associate humans with food, thus diminishing their natural fear response. Additionally, young birds may come to rely on this food and never learn to truly hunt. This feeding program is done with permitting from the government by trained professionals.
Donate: You can play a role in eagle conservation. Click here to make your tax-deductible gift today.
Read More in Our Publications, Reports, and Comments
Contact the Team to Learn More
This program is led by our Conservation Science team. To learn more, contact Dr. Steve Slater, Conservation Science Director.
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.