Golden Eagles – Wyoming


In 2019, Wyoming had an installed wind power capacity of 1,589 MW in Wyoming ranking 15th in the Nation. Wyoming is also home to one of the densest populations of breeding golden eagles in the lower 48 states, and it also hosts large numbers of wintering golden eagles from the north (e.g., Canada and Alaska) and from the south (e.g., New Mexico, Colorado) as well as itinerants from other states (e.g., California, Nevada).

The overlap between wind energy and eagles has resulted in notable negative turbine-eagle interactions. With an increasing number of turbines expected to come online in the future and the known site and context-specific risk to raptors from turbines, there is an important need to develop empirically-based, site-specific models that can predict risk to golden eagles and other raptors from turbines and to suggest predicted low- and high-risk approaches to development. The goal of this project is to create spatially explicit risk models to aid managers in minimizing negative interactions between eagles and wind turbines.

Research Methods

This is a multi-year project running from 2017-2021. From June 2017 – June 2019, 44 golden eagles were tagged in southeast Wyoming with light-weight GPS telemetry units that collect data at intervals as frequent as 4 seconds. The units provide information on date, time, location, flight speed, flight altitude and direction, activity rate as measured by an accelerometer, and other diagnostic information. These telemetry data will be used to predict where golden eagles are a risk of negative interactions with wind turbines. 

This project is lead by Todd Katzner at the US Geological Survey in collaboration with biologists at Conservation Science Global, Mike Lockhart at Wildlands Photography and Bio-Consulting, and biologists with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Specific Studies

Assessing risk to golden eagles from turbine development: Adaptive management to build, validate, refine, and implement models to reduce wind-wildlife conflict.

Scientific Presentations

  • Miller, T.A., J.M. Lockhart, B. Smith, M.A. Braham, L. Schueck, and T.E. Katzner. 2019. Flight behavior of Golden Eagles in Wyoming: Implications for wind power. Wyoming Golden Eagle Working Group Meeting. Sheridan Wyoming. Oral presentation.
  • Miller, T.A., J.M. Lockhart, B. Smith, M.A. Braham, L. Schueck, and T.E. Katzner. 2019. Flight behavior of Golden Eagles in Wyoming: Implications for wind power. Raptor Research Foundation Annual Conference, Fort Collins, Colorado. Oral presentation.