Modeling golden eagle‐vehicle collisions to design mitigation strategies

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

The incidental take of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) as a result of wind energy development requires some form of compensatory mitigation. Although several options have been proposed, only one has been formerly accepted and implemented, and the lack of options can limit the permit process for wind facilities. We developed a model to estimate numbers of golden eagles that die when struck by vehicles when eagles scavenge road kill to evaluate removal of road‐killed carcasses as an additional mitigation option. Our model estimates vehicle collision rates as a function of eagle densities, road traffic volume, and animal carcass abundance at the scale of a Wyoming, USA, county during fall‐winter, and quantifies the effects of different mitigation strategies, including estimates of uncertainty. We evaluated the plausibility of our model estimates by predicting mortality rates for each county in Wyoming and comparing overall state mortality to current estimates of mortality using derived estimates from expert judgment. We also developed a context‐dependent analysis of potential mitigation credits controlling for carcass number, traffic volume, and background carcass removals. We found that mitigation credit should be highest in areas with greatest number of carcasses. Collision mitigation is a potentially useful addition to the mitigation toolbox for wind energy development or other activities that need to offset predicted golden eagle mortality and satisfy incidental take permit requirements. 

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Modeling golden eagle‐vehicle collisions to design mitigation strategies
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21527
Edition 1633
Volume 82
Issue 8
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 12 p.
First page 1644
Country United States
State Wyoming