Date: June 2, 2016
Source: Texas Tech University
In the avian world, the eagle is known as the apex predator, meaning no other bird considers an eagle its prey. The eagle is on the top of the avian food chain.
But that doesn't mean they live without dangers, most of them humanmade. There's one humanmade danger in particular that Texas Tech University professor Clint Boal is working with several governmental agencies to discover ways to mitigate golden eagle deaths as much as possible.
With the push toward clean energy, West Texas and Eastern New Mexico have seen a tremendous growth in the popularity and construction of wind turbine farms. But those farms, while essential to ending the United States' dependency on fossil fuels, have created a danger for the golden eagle in the same areas.
"Wind energy development throughout the western U.S. is ongoing and rampant, and it is an important renewable energy source and we all recognize that," said Boal, a professor in the Department of Natural Resources Management in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources. "But it doesn't come without some ecological cost that can be either displacement of wildlife or the direct mortality of wildlife. If the species is really abundant, it may not be a substantive issue. But when you have a species that is not as abundant, has a long life span, and has low productivity, it does become an issue."
That's why the research Boal and his colleagues are performing is so important. Boal, a member of the United States Geological Survey's Cooperative Research Unit at Texas Tech, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Region 2 office and its Western Golden Eagle Team, are in the process of studying golden eagle movements and potential interactions with wind turbines.