WVU-led golden eagle research group honored by Wings Across the Americas

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(Editors note: photos of Katzner and golden eagles available for download on WVUToday.)

Todd Katzner with eagle — Todd Katzner, WVU research assistant professor, gets up close and personal with a golden eagle. Katzner and Phil Turk, assistant professor of statistics, will lead efforts to help California balance energy development with golden eagle habitat needs and migratory patterns. (Photo copyright: Todd Katzner.)

Todd Katzner with eagle — Todd Katzner, WVU research assistant professor, gets up close and personal with a golden eagle. Katzner and Phil Turk, assistant professor of statistics, will lead efforts to help California balance energy development with golden eagle habitat needs and migratory patterns. (Photo copyright: Todd Katzner.)

Todd Katzner

Todd Katzner

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The U.S. Forest Service’s Wings Across the Americas program recently honored the Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group, an international collaboration of biologists and wildlife managers from 20 institutions in the United States and Canada, with its 2013 Research and Management Partnership Award.

Headed by Todd Katzner, a research biologist jointly funded by the U.S. Forest Service and West Virginia University, and Charles Maisonneuve of the Ministre des Ressources naturelles in Quebec, the Golden Eagle Working Group is identifying gaps in knowledge, prioritizing research needs, promoting science-based conservation and management actions, increasing public and governmental awareness, and coordinating the activities of managers and biologists.

“We all accomplish more when we join forces, and the Golden Eagle Working Group truly exemplifies the power of collaboration in science and conservation,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station.

The small population of golden eagles in Eastern North America faces challenges that range from diminishing habitat, to incidental capture in traps, to wind turbines. Since its inception in 2010, the Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group has marshaled technology, research and enthused citizens to assess the species status and raise awareness of the threats they face.

Projects include a camera trapping program, in which approximately 200 volunteers and organizations support 150 trail camera stations from Maine to Georgia, including some on experimental research forests managed by the Forest Service. Camera stations are helping researchers to evaluate the population status not only of golden eagles, but also of other species, including bald eagle, red-shouldered hawk, eastern spotted skunk, fisher, and bobcat.
The Working Group has also partnered with Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture and other regional groups to coordinate conservation and research efforts for golden eagles in the Appalachian region.

“Our objective is to ensure the long-term sustainability of Eastern golden eagle populations and to make the species a flagship for landscape-scale conservation,” said Katzner, a research assistant professor of wildlife and fisheries resources in WVU’s Division of Forestry and Natural Resources. The survival of a charismatic species like the golden eagle truly demonstrates that in the eastern United States, healthy populations of wildlife are not mutually exclusive with large human populations.

Eastern Golden Eagle

Eastern Golden Eagle

The Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group has extensive outreach efforts designed to share its images and information with the public. It has developed several web sites (www.egewg.org, www.appalachianeagles.org) that shares images captured at the camera trapping sites and encourages additional volunteers to join the effort. Teachers’ use of the Working Group’s golden eagle data and images in the classroom has connected future generations of biologists and ornithologists with the Working Group.

 

Wings Across the Americas is sponsored by U.S. Forest Service programs including the National Forest System, State & Private Forestry, Research & Development and International Programs. Wings Across the Americas works with a wide range of partners in the United States and overseas to conserve habitats and populations of birds, bats, butterflies, and dragonflies.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of our nation’s forests; 850 million acres including 100 million acres of urban forests where most Americans live. The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

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