DRONES are posing a modern threat to the survival of wedge-tailed eagles prompting Parkerville expert Simon Cherriman to launch a crowdfunding project to further the bird.
Mr Cherriman said little was known about Australia’s largest bird of prey.
“Currently we have limited information about the movements and survival of juvenile wedge-tails, especially during modern times which have seen an increase in human activity in arid Australia, resulting in drastic changes to their habitat,” he said.
“We do know many birds are killed by vehicles, and more recently, the threat of increasingly used drones is encroaching on their habitat in the sky.”
In 2015 Mr Cherriman crowdfunded to satellite tag young wedge-tails born in the Perth Hills, which was done in October 2016, the first time such work had been conducted in this part of Australia.
“Kala, one of the young eagles sat tagged, fledged in December 2016, and is now wandering around the vast interior,” he said.
“But he is vulnerable to a range of threats.
“Two other wedge-tails that were sat-tagged died well before turning one, placing emphasis on just how precious the life of every young eagle is.
“One of these birds, Walyunga, was killed after colliding with an aircraft, possibly while attacking a drone that chopped off multiple flight feathers, highlighting the significance of such modern threats.”
Mr Cherriman said eagles perceived drones as a threat to their territory and lives.
He said the last population-scale study was conducted by CSIRO during the 1960s and ‘70s.
“This study’s conclusion emphasised the need to conduct long-term population studies and continue research as environmental changes occur,” he said.
“But no such broad-scale research has been conducted.
“The accuracy of our knowledge depends on following the stories of more than just a few birds.
“That is why I need to carry out another year of sat-tagging young eagles in 2017 to increase the sample size, increasing our level of understanding of how and where these birds travel to, what threats they face, and how we as custodians of the land can ensure they soar well into the future.”
The public can donate until September 13 by visiting https://pozible.com/project/wheres-wailitj.