TRC’s Research Team Spreads Their Wings Across Wyoming

Teton Raptor Center’s Research Team had a busy spring of aerial surveying throughout the state of Wyoming. Senior Field Technician Adrian Rouse flew over 80 hours to conduct raptor nest surveys from a fixed-wing aircraft. Often flying as low as 200 feet from the ground and pushing the limits of the craft’s abilities at speeds as low as 80mph, Rouse documented nearly 50 active Golden Eagle nests this spring. The nests were found across a series of random grids where the observed Golden Eagle nest density will be used to validate models that produced TRC’s newly released RaptorMapper decision support tool. RaptorMapper shows land managers the relative seasonal conservation value of Wyoming’s landscape for Golden Eagles to inform decisions regarding development and mitigation. This tool will be especially critical for the development of future wind projects and conservation actions in Wyoming, which is a globally important area for Golden Eagles across all seasons.

TRC’s Conservation Director, Bryan Bedrosian was recently featured on the Science Friday Podcast where he discussed Golden Eagle wind turbine collisions and mitigation techniques. A 2020 study in Norway found that painting one blade of a wind turbine black reduced raptor mortality by up to 70%. The study is being replicated in Glenrock, WY in an attempt to understand the potential impact blade painting might have on eagles in Wyoming. “Wind turbines, just like every other issue, particularly with the environment, is not black and white,” Bedrosian said. “If we can reduce that risk with something as simple as painting the blade, I am all for it.” 

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