Wyoming wildlife authorities said an electrocuted golden eagle found last month is the second-oldest of the species discovered in North America.
Wyoming Fish and Game Department Biologist Tim Thomas said the bird was banded — or given a special ID number — more than 30 years ago in the northeastern portion of the state.
“This particular bird was banded in the nest, so we know it was the young of that year in 1983,” Thomas said. “It was part of a study to look at the ability to move nests in the Powder River Basin ahead of coal mining.”
Thomas said the bird, whose life came to an end after coming into contact with a power line, is most likely a female. Officials are awaiting a necropsy to confirm the bird’s sex and to see if it was still in its reproductive years.
The discovery of a banded golden eagle is highly uncommon. Thomas said information gathered about the bird will be used to better understand the species as a whole.
“Some of these animals we don’t have a lot of definitive information [on]; how long do they live exactly in the wild, how long do they produce young, things like that,” Thomas said. “This bird will be at least one piece of information that will help fill in some of those questions.”
Thomas said unlike golden eagles living in captivity, wild eagles don’t tend to live beyond their early 30s. The oldest wild golden eagle was found in Utah in 2012, it was 31 years 7 months old.
Currently, power companies must comply with mandatory regulations aimed at preventing avian power line deaths. Many additional voluntary preventative measures are supported by raptor protection groups.