Golden Eagle Conservation Issues
While our seasonal migration counts tell us much about migrating golden eagle numbers – they have been declining since 1995 – they tell us little about the factors causing recorded variations.
Juvenile eagle numbers do seem to rise and fall in harmony with the availability of snowshoe hares in the Yukon and Alaska. Shortage of food causes affected breeding pairs to skip egg laying for that particular year with the result that a pair may raise only four or five chicks over a ten-year cycle. On average, the numbers of juveniles making their first trip south do indicate that reproduction rates in the north would be adequate to maintain healthy populations under normal environmental circumstances.
However, spring migration counts indicate that high rates of mortality in the warm wintering ranges are outpacing natural replacement. Persistent drought and loss of habitat to human activity may be conspiring factors affecting winter mortality in the United States and Mexico. Increased cross-boundary collaboration among raptor research groups is required to determine the causes of golden eagle population decline and to find means of stopping this trend.
The golden eagle is classified as Sensitive in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species. Like all birds of prey in Alberta, the golden eagle is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act, and classified as a non-game species. The Canadian Government provides conservation and management comments for the golden eagles – http://www.ec.gc.ca/soc-sbc/oiseau-bird-eng.aspx?sL=e&sY=2011&sM=a&sB=GOEA