TOPEKA (KSNT) – Kansas wildlife biologists will be able to continue their study of a group of bald eagles and expand their work due to local donations.
Nadia Marji with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) said in a press release on Thursday that a research study that began in 2021 is getting additional support through voluntary contributions made to the KDWP’s Chickadee Checkoff. The study focuses on the ecology of bald eagles hatched in Kansas, initially including just 13 birds. With the additional donations, the number of bald eagles in the study has increased to almost 30.
The study includes KDWP partners from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Conservation Science Global, Evergy and various private landowners. Marji said the results of the study will help wildlife managers and developers address potential conflicts between bald eagles and development infrastructure.
Research into bald eagles is nothing new in Kansas. Marji said studies into bald eagle populations started in 1989 when biologists began looking at a nest at Clinton Reservoir. From that point on, nearly 300 nesting territories have been reported to the USFWS and Kansas Biological Survey with new nesting spots being reported each year.
“For 34 years, conservationists have done outstanding work documenting breeding activity and population expansion across the state,” said KDWP terrestrial ecologist Zac Eddy. “Having said that, little-to-no research has been completed on the ecology of the species. So, we still know very little about eaglet survival, seasonal range size, landscape and airspace use, and response to anthropogenic development or man-made structures in our state. With this research study, we aim to change that.”
Marji said biologists have used identification bands and GPS backpacks on 15 bald eagles hatched in 2023 in several counties across the state. The solar-powered GPS backpacks are used to collect data on the eagles after they leave their nests.
“The units collect timestamped data points documenting location, altitude, heading, and speed at intervals of 3-5 seconds in flight and 15 minutes at roost,” Eddy said.