Developing an efficient protocol for monitoring eagle fatalities at wind energy facilities

Journal Article

Title: Developing an efficient protocol for monitoring eagle fatalities at wind energy facilities
Publication Date:
December 12, 2018
Journal: PLOS ONE
Volume: 13
Issue: 12
Publisher: PLOS

Document Access

Website: External Link
Attachment: Access File
(4 MB)


Hallingstad, E.; Rabie, P.; Telander, A.; Roppe, J.; Nagy, L. (2018). Developing an efficient protocol for monitoring eagle fatalities at wind energy facilities. PLOS ONE, 13(12).

Researchers typically conduct fatality monitoring to determine a wind energy facility’s direct impacts on wildlife. In the United States, wind energy impacts on eagles have received increased attention in recent years because eagle incidental take permits became available. Permit holders are required to conduct fatality monitoring to evaluate compliance with permitted eagle take. Our objective was to develop an efficient eagle fatality monitoring protocol with a quantifiable detection probability based on a stationary scanning search method. We conducted scanning searches for eagle carcasses at four wind energy facilities. We estimated searcher efficiency of the scanning search method using feathered turkey decoys as eagle carcass surrogates, used publicly available data on large raptor carcass distances from turbines to evaluate the proportion of carcasses expected to occur in searched areas, and estimated carcass persistence rates for game birds and raptors. These three bias adjustments were combined to estimate the overall probability of detection for the scanning search method. We found generally high searcher efficiency for the scanning search method, with 76% of decoys detected; however, detection decreased with distance and difficulty of visibility class. Mean carcass persistence time varied between 28 and 76 days for raptors and between three and nine days for game birds, showing that game birds do not persist as long as raptors. We estimated that 95% of large avian carcasses fall within 100 m of turbine bases, and 99% fall within 150 m. Using these estimates and assuming a 30-day search interval for all facility turbines, we estimated that the probability of detecting a large raptor carcass using the scanning search method at a wind facility ranged from 0.50 to 0.69. Our research suggests a monitoring program that uses scanning searches can be a cost-effective approach for gathering data necessary to meet incidental eagle take permit requirements.

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