The Golden Eagle Photo Monitoring Project

SHR surveyed the activities of Golden Eagles on our land in order to estimate the Golden Eagle population wintering in the Appalachia during 2013-14.

With guidance from West Virginia University’s College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the NC Wildlife Resource Commission, SHR began virtually “trapping” eagles using a digital camera set to take photographs in one-minute intervals. After two or three days, staff would download photos, change the batteries and set the camera to photograph the designated trapping area.

Staff would set out “bait” in the form of deer carcasses in specific designated areas that eagles prefer to land and enjoy a feast. Golden Eagles prefer mountaintop areas and perch in large trees overlooking clearings where they can hunt and track prey. The project attempted to mimic their natural feeding habits.

The timing of the project was during January and February prior to leaves potentially blocking photos and allowing the University to compare results between locations. Sites were mapped using GIS software.