Rehabilitated golden eagle now soars with high-tech equipment “on board”
In February 2011, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologists released a rehabilitated golden eagle with assistance from David Kramar, project associate with the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment. The bird had been injured and was rehabilitated by the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Kramar outfitted the eagle with a cellular-based GPS tracking device to monitor its foraging behavior and migration pathways. GPS technology provides high-resolution data at 15-minute intervals until a geo-fence is passed. The units then collect locational information at 30-second intervals, providing high-resolution data that can then be used to calculate time budgets and other valuable information that may prove useful in protecting golden eagles.
Some estimates suggest that there may be fewer than 2,000 eastern golden eagles in the wild, so the officials and researchers who gathered in the cold wind on Harvey's Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway were glad this one made it back.
As part of his Ph.D research in geography, Kramar collected biological samples to assess contaminants, such as lead and mercury. The samples will also be used by researchers at Duquesne University to determine whether the eastern golden eagle is genetically different from the western population.