North America’s largest flying predator, the golden eagles live in Wyoming.
Research on golden eagles is the focus of an upcoming permanent exhibit at a natural history museum in Cody.
But eagles are often killed by wind turbines.
Ironically, an energy foundation connected to a wind farm is helping fund the new exhibit.
This is what most golden eagle chicks look like white and fluffy.
They will grow to have a seven foot wingspan, and will be capable of killing prey as large as mule deer.
“Golden eagles are apex predators. They’re iconic, they’re charismatic, but they’re also ecologically important. They have great influence all the way down the food chain because of their position at the top of the food chain.”
“Many people think of this as part of the Great Plains. It is not. It is the sage brush steppe, and it covers much of Wyoming.”
Something new has come to Wyoming, wind farms.
“And turbines can kill eagles as they collide with them,” said Dr. Preston.
Dr. Charles Preston studies golden eagles, now he’s leading the creation of a new exhibit on the research in the Draper Natural History Museum in Cody.
“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase more than a decade of research that we’ve conducted here in the big horn basin about golden eagles and golden eagle nesting ecology in relation to landscape changes,” said Preston.
He added several organizations have contributed money to build the exhibition one of them is the Duke Energy Foundation.
Duke Energy renewables owns the top of the world wind site near Glenrock.
He said they use technology to try to reduce collisions and their information on that will be used in the exhibit, but “We control the content of the exhibition. We’re not influenced by who’s funding us, and they understand that. They’re very sophisticated. They know that. We sent them a proposal on what we were going to do, and they said, wow, we want to fund that.”
The research helps identify other challenges to the sage brush steppe and its inhabitants like traditional energy development, housing sprawl, increased ATV and even mountain bike use.
“I think one of the most important, the most imperiled and one of the most undervalued environments that we have in the American West is the sage brush steppe.”
The exhibit is expected to open in the Draper Museum at the Center of the West in Cody in 2018.