Bald Eagles & Energy Development

The anticline region of the Green River Valley has been receiving, and will continue to receive, high development pressure from energy extraction practices and the resulting infrastructure. These anthropogenic actions result in habitat alteration, loss, and increased disturbance levels, which raises serious concern for sensitive wildlife species like ungulates, sage-grouse, and bald eagles. With over 8,500 gas wells already drilled in the Green River Valley and an additional 10,000 – 15,000 forecasted over the next decade, the rate of anthropogenic change to this area will only increase. Although the physical footprint of oil and gas infrastructure comprises only a small portion of the valley, recent research has shown that the effects of this infrastructure on native wildlife species can be extensive. Human modification and increased presence in the valley, especially in riparian corridors, may influence a variety of sensitive species. The Bald Eagle is listed as a Level I Priority Bird Species in Wyoming, and it is sensitive to year-round disturbance at nest sites and quality foraging areas. The reduction and mitigation of disturbance at both eagle nesting and annual use areas needs to be a high priority for wildlife managers in the region. However, identifying critical annual bald eagle habitat is the first step in the process to understand what - if any - mitigation efforts are needed,  and also what efforts might be successful. By assessing landscape level habitat use of bald eagles using the Green River Valley, managers will be in a better position to promote the conservation of eagles, the mitigation of current developments, and to help provide for sustainable development in the region and elsewhere in the western United States.

Objectives:

  • Investigate landscape habitat use of bald eagles in the Upper Green and New Fork River area near Pinedale.
  • Examine the potential relationships between eagle habitat use, distribution, nest success, and mortality with the degree of anthropogenic landscape features associated with energy development. We propose to utilize solar-powered, rechargeable GPS/satellite tracking devices (Microwave Telemetry) to monitor the movements from a total of 12 bald eagles in the Green River Valley. 
  • Describe and model micro-scale movement parameters and landscape use not currently documented for this species.
  • By collecting GPS location, altitudinal, and speed data from each eagle, we will be able to determine critical habitats and use based on duration, roosting ecology, foraging dynamics, flight paths, and landscape-levels patterns of use, productivity and distribution. 
  • By identifying specific needs for Bald Eagles in and around the PAPA vicinity, both on-sight and off-sight mitigation needs will be identified to protect key habitat.

Click HERE to track these eagles in real-time!


Project Collaborators: 

  Bryan Bedrosian
  Susan Patla
  Therese Hartman
  Lisa Solberg

Project Partners: 
  Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD)
  Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Funding Sources: 
 Pinedale Anticline Project Office

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