Golden eagle tagged and released as part of study

By Brian Sweeney
A locally based project to study the habits of Golden Eagles added a new dimension on Saturday when one of the eagles was captured and outfitted with a tracking device.
After a few unsuccessful attempts this past week, project leader Scott VanArsdale from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation set up around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday at a designated “watch” location off Tremperskill Road, Andes. An immature golden was one of the early birds to come into the setup area and was trapped before 7 a.m.
Winging It: Various measurements, like wingspan, were made of this golden eagle before she was tagged with a transmitter and set free as part of The Golden Eagle Project. Peg DiBenedetto (left) was one of several area residents assisting with the study.Winging It: Various measurements, like wingspan, were made of this golden eagle before she was tagged with a transmitter and set free as part of The Golden Eagle Project. Peg DiBenedetto (left) was one of several area residents assisting with the study.
A solar powered transmitter was affixed to the golden eagle, blood was drawn, and assorted measurements were done before the bird was released around noon.
The eagle was caught with a rocket net. Scott waited in a blind until he saw her land. He then activated the net, and other project associates who were waiting down below came up and helped get the bird to the processing site, where it was weighed, measured, and outfitted with the transmitter that will send data to the West Virginia University researchers.
The Golden Eagle Project is being undertaken in conjunction with West Virginia University and the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society. Several area residents, including Peg and Mike DiBenedetto of Halcott Center and Mike Porter of Margaretville, are assisting with the study.
“We don't know how far ‘Max’ has gone; she has to be in cell phone range in order to send data and apparently is staying out of range. The data for each day will be stored until it is sent back; once she crosses the border into Canada, which will be in a couple of weeks, we won't get anything until she crosses back over in the fall,” Peg explained.
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.
The golden eagles (and many other birds and wildlife) are lured to the project sites by roadkill carcasses placed at these locations.
The group will attempt to catch another golden in Andes and attempts will be made at other sites in Otsego County.