When Are Eagles Likely to Collide with Aircraft?

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Since the ban of DDT, bald eagle populations have rebounded to near-historic levels and aircraft strikes have increased since 1998. Wildlife-aircraft strikes are expensive and the large body size of the bald eagle increases the likelihood of aircraft damage and human injury when a collision occurs.

Young birds are at greater risk for vehicle collision, but basic information about movement patterns of young eagles is not well understood. USGS and others tracked the fine-scale movements of 32 fledgling eagles from nests on the Chesapeake Bay, in proximity to airfields and determined the distance eagles traveled and percent of time spent away from the nest at different ages. Peak encounter with airfields occurred mainly in the first 1.5 years of life and peaked in late fall and early spring. Results from this study can assist airfield managers to determine the necessity and ideal timing of interventions so that they are cost-effective and appropriate.

 

Miller, T.A., Cooper, J.L., Duerr, A.E., Braham, M.A., Anderson, J.T., Katzner, T.E., 2019, Implications for bird aircraft strike hazard by bald eagles: Journal of Wildlife Management, p. online, https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21647