Raptor nesting near oil and gas development: an overview of key findings and implications for management based on four reports by HawkWatch International

BLM Technical Note 432
Prepared for: U.S. Department of Interior


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The project was undertaken because of a paucity of information about the possible effects of OG operations and resource management on nesting raptors. BLM raptor management has included stipulations that restricted human activity near raptor nests during the raptor nesting season. The BLM and the Department of Energy (DOE), which provided financial support for the study, seek information that will contribute to enhancing OG extraction operations while providing environmental protection, including raptor conservation.

This project used historical data from Utah and Wyoming. The Price, Utah study area, as of 2006, contained more than 1,100 wells, in a nearly uniform distribution at a density of one per quarter section (160-acre spacing). Some development occurred closer to existing nests because the nest sites had not been discovered or because the land is administered by the State of Utah, without these stipulations. The Rawlins, Wyoming study area included more than 4,200 OG wells in 2006. Compared to the Price study area, wells at Rawlins were less regularly distributed; reaching densities of one well per quarter section (160-acre spacing) in some areas, but less dense elsewhere.

HWI compiled information from federal bureaus, state agencies, and industry, and determined how to evaluate the effectiveness of spatial and temporal buffer restrictions that have been applied within areas of OG extraction. HWI used the historical data to describe patterns of OG development relative to raptor nests, and to document changes in the distribution and breeding status of raptor nests relative to OG activities. HWI evaluated how these historical datasets were useful for quantifying the relationship between OG development and other human activities and nesting raptors. HWI assessed changes in Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) nesting success and productivity, and in use of artificial nest structures (ANSs), which had been erected to reduce the use by raptors of OG structures as nest substrates. Also, HWI studied Accipiter species’ use of pinyon– juniper vegetation communities in the Piceance Basin of Colorado, described basic vegetation and landscape characteristics of nests, and offered recommendations about surveying for accipiter hawks in pinyon–juniper landscapes. Please read the HWI reports for details.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Raptor nesting near oil and gas development: an overview of key findings and implications for management based on four reports by HawkWatch International
Series title BLM Technical Note
Series number 432
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Bureau of Land Management
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description iii, 11 p.
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