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Researchers go the extra mile in wedge-tailed eagle conservation efforts

Date: 03-Jun-20
Author: Liam Taylor

The wedge-tailed eagle is Australia's largest bird of prey.

The wedge-tailed eagle is Australia's largest bird of prey.

A research team in Tasmania has scaled some of the state’s tallest trees in an effort to better understand Australia’s biggest bird of prey. 

The team from the University of Tasmania climbed to heights of 80 metres or more in order to attach GPS trackers to 25 young eagles around the state in an effort to study their flight paths. Teams used ropes and harnesses to climb trees and briefly retrieve juveniles from their nests to attach the devices before returning them.

The project is aiming to better understand threats to the endangered wedge-tailed eagle in Tasmania from human impacts such as power lines, cars, fences, wind turbines, poisoning and loss of habitat. Researchers hope that by studying the birds’ flight paths, dangers can be identified from the patterns that emerge and actions taken to mitigate their threat.

"If we know where birds are flying low we can put up these things like bird flappers that makes the power lines more visible to the eagles and reduces the likelihood of crashing into the power lines themselves," lead researcher Dr James Pay told ABC News.

The data collected is also yielding information into just how far these birds can travel by air, with one eagle flying nearly 250km in just eight hours. The next stage of the project will be to track fully developed adult eagles to see how their flight paths compare with the younger birds.

Populations of Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles remain threatened, with just 350 breeding pairs estimated in the wild. Establishing what the most severe threats are within their flight range will be critical to further conservation interventions.

 

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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.



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