Cooperative Golden Eagle Research Project Back In Flight

Monday, January 13, 2014
Wildlife Manager Keith Thomas releases a three-year-old male Golden Eagle that was trapped on Hatfield Knob in the North Cumberland WMA during February of 2013.  The eagle is being tracked and is currently around Green River Lake near Louisville, Ky.
Wildlife Manager Keith Thomas releases a three-year-old male Golden Eagle that was trapped on Hatfield Knob in the North Cumberland WMA during February of 2013. The eagle is being tracked and is currently around Green River Lake near Louisville, Ky.

The TWRA and multiple partners are working together this winter to continue the ongoing study of the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) in the southern Appalachian Mountains.  The project, in its third year, has successfully documented the presence and distribution of Eastern Golden Eagles as they spend the winter in the region. 

According to TWRA State Ornithologist, Scott Somershoe, the eastern population is currently estimated at 3-4,000 individuals.  The eagles migrate south from their breeding grounds in Quebec, Labrador, and Ontario from mid-October to mid-December and spend the winter in the southern Appalachians until they depart in March and early April.  It during this time period that biologists take the opportunity to study the eagles at various sites throughout the southeastern region.

The project is monitoring four sights in east Tenn. this year: in Roan Mountain State Park in Carter Co., on Unaka Mountain in Unicoi Co., in the Tackett Creek Area of Claiborne Co., and on Hatfield Knob at the North Cumberland WMA.

Monitoring consists of placing cameras that continuously record sites baited with deer carcasses in small openings of heavily forested areas.  The cameras are checked weekly and when an eagle is observed, a rocket-net is used to capture the animal.  Once trapped, biological data is recorded, a transmitter is attached, and the bird is released.

According to Region 4 Wildlife Surveys Manager Chris Ogle, “The project successfully trapped three Golden Eagles last year, which were outfitted with transmitters and released.”  The transmitters collect data with location information, accuracy, speed, and altitude above sea level every 15 minutes.  Data is then sent through cellular towers each morning, when cellular coverage is available. 

The study has produced some other encouraging results: “We have documented Golden Eagles at 11 of 21 different bait sites over the last two winters, suggesting that that Golden Eagles are likely much more common in than previously known,” said Mr. Somershoe.  “Tracking additional individuals from east, middle, and west Tenn. will provide significant information on the origin of Golden Eagles as well as their winter ranges, migration routes, and habitat use, to effectively inform conservation efforts.”

The TWRA is working on the study alongside the Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group, The Nature Conservancy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service, West Virginia University, the Ala. Dept. of Conservation and Nat. Resources, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and Cellular Tracking Technologies.

More information can be found on the Tennessee Watchable Wildlife website at: http://www.tnwatchablewildlife.org/GoldenEagles.cfm

 


Secretary Jewell Announces Decision To Protect 75,000 Acres Of Eastern Tennessee Mountains From Future Surface Mining

At the request of the State of Tennessee, the Department of the Interior has agreed to designate approximately 75,000 acres of mountain ridgelines as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations. Today’s action helps protect a spectacular area of eastern Tennessee that is critical to the region’s tourism and outdoor recreation economy, provides valuable fish and wildlife habitat ... (click for more)

Alexander Given Scenic Byway Trailblazer Award

Senator Lamar Alexander was one of two recipients on Tuesday, of the Scenic Byway Trailblazer Award from Scenic America, the National Scenic Byway Foundation and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership. Senator Alexander was recognized at an event celebrating the 25 th  anniversary of the National Scenic Byways Program. He said, “When I was governor of Tennessee ... (click for more)

2 Juveniles Arrested For Arson In Sevier County Fires

An investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, National Park Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office has resulted in charges being placed against two juveniles in connection with the deadly wildfires in Sevier County.  Last week, at the request of 4 th  District Attorney ... (click for more)

Walker County Will No Longer Have Full-Time County Attorney Under Whitfield Tenure; Will Add Full-Time Communications Director

Incoming Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said under his administration there will no longer be a full-time county attorney. "We will outsource this service on a fee basis," he said. Mr. Whitfield said he has begun interviewing attorneys who might be able to help out the county from time to time. Don Oliver has long been the county attorney for Walker County ... (click for more)

Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents - And Response

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Cost Of No Discipline

At the start of the current school year, state education officials gathered at some “state testing task force” when disciplinary records from across Tennessee happened to be revealed. You probably are unaware of this, as it seems to have been kept on the “down low,” but statewide a full 20 percent of the black males in our public schools were suspended at least once during the 2014-2015 ... (click for more)