GPS Tracking to Help Save Endangered Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed Eagles

5 Jan 2018

The wedge-tailed eagle is the largest living raptor (bird of prey) in Australia and is one of the largest eagles on earth. With wingspans of 7½ feet on average, the eagles take their name from their long, wedge-shaped tails.

Due to deforestation, being disturbed while nesting, deliberate human persecution and accidentally ingesting pesticides and Dingo (wild canine found in Australia)  baits, the eagle is now endangered.

The Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle looks likely to be fitted with GPS tracking devices in the near future as part of a divisive strategy to consider the threats they face on a daily basis. It’s hoped that by rolling out the project, the species can be saved.

Researchers from the University of Tasmania plan to track eagles over the age of three months, as the GPS devices can only be safely fitted when the eagles are around 10 to 11 weeks old. However, this proposal, that is still to receive the go ahead from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, has faced resistance from founder of the Raptor and Wildlife Refuge of Tasmania, Craig Webb.

Mr. Webb has raised concerns that fitting the raptors with GPS devices is potentially invasive. He agrees that the project will help scientists gain information, however he has reservations with regards to upsetting the young eagles.

Elissa Cameron, the research project leader, has stated that the project has involved extensive consultation and that is has been given all the relevant ethical clearances. Furthermore, Professor Cameron has said that the monitoring technique that’s to be used is the gold standard in terms of tracking rare raptors that are susceptible to being disturbed.

She also added that through tracking the movements of the birds when they’re young, it helps researchers better understand the creatures. This will provide information on causes of mortality, so these can potentially be better managed.

A spokesperson from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Development has stated that the project is currently being assessed. Factors and issues such as animal welfare, the contribution to our understanding of the species and the study’s value for the conservation of the endangered eagles are being taken into consideration.

It is hoped by the researchers that the project will be given the green light very soon.




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