Carcass donations sought for golden eagle study project

By Brian Sweeney
Halcott Center residents Michael and Peg DiBenedetto are again soliciting donations of road kill carcasses to attract birds for their Golden Eagle Project.
The project is being undertaken in conjunction with West Virginia University and the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society and the DiBenedettos have again volunteered to assist with the work.
During this year’s Golden Eagle Project, personnel from the NYS Department of Environment Conservation will work with project organizers in an attempt to capture two eagles so they can be fitted with telemetry devices that will provide data on flight and migration patterns of the goldens.
The study’s purpose “is to determine over-wintering populations of Golden Eagles in the Appalachian plateau.” The project is also trying to determine possible genetic differences between Eastern Goldens and those of the western states.
“This will result in better understanding of the birds’ behavior and will make for more accurate and educated scientific decisions, such as the siting of wind farms,” Peg noted.
To attract the birds, carcasses are placed in strategic locations and motion-activated cameras document activities of the birds and other animals that show up for a meal. Project participants visit the site every few days to resupply the carcasses and check the photographic evidence.
“We use primarily deer carcasses, and we have to be careful to remove any part of the deer that may have been shot so that we don’t inadvertently expose any eagles to lead poisoning, which kills a lot of birds each year.  We will accept downed livestock, but not if they’ve have medicines recently administered, although antibiotics would be all right,” Peg explained.
The DiBenedettos have a permit from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation that allows them to pick up and transport the deer carcasses. Donated carcasses should be from Delaware County, but carcasses originating from Pine Hill and Halcott Center are allowable.
Anyone who would like to assist with the project by donating carcasses, should contact by calling Michael at 845 417-8928, Peg at 845 594-3548 or 845 254-6508 after 4 p.m. and on weekends.