January 20th , 2014 9:31 am Leave a comment

East Tennessee key to eagle studies

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Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency has been studying the flight paths of bald and golden eagles.

Chris Ogle, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife surveys manager, is an integral part in studying the flight paths and nests of the nation’s symbol — the bald eagle — along with its close relative — the golden eagle.

“They are two different species,” Ogle said. “They are both protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as well as the Bald Eagle Protection Act.”

The golden eagle, a threatened species, is more rare than the bald eagle, Ogle said.

“We’ve discovered that they are more prevalent in the state than we thought,” Ogle said. “We are finding that their range is much larger than we previously thought.”

Ogle is currently working with a large-scale project between the U.S and Canada. The initiative is a collaboration among the TWRA, Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group, Cellular Tracking Technologies, the Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to, name a few.

“This started three years ago,” Ogle said. “We weren’t even sure if we had golden eagles in the state. We figured we did, but we just never had any sightings reported to us.”

Sites selected for golden eagle study are based on their elevation. Ogle said deer carcasses are staked into the ground to be used as bait.

“Then we put a game camera on it,” he said. “Nearly every site that we put out the first year, we had eagles at it.”

There are four of these sites in East Tennessee, one of them in Roan Mountain State Park.

“We didn’t get any eagles there last year, but in 2012 we had an eagle there,” Ogle said. “We are hoping the eagle will come back this year.”

As for bald eagles, Ogle said there are about 32 nests in Tennessee’s 21 eastern counties.

To see the rest of this story, log on to the Elizabethton Star’s e-edition or pick up a copy of our award-winning print edition, available through subscriptions, in boxes and at vendors throughout Carter and Johnson counties. The e-edition is free to subscribers. Others may pay a daily, weekly or monthly fee to access the e-edition.

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