Just ten miles from downtown Boise, scientists are studying golden eagle migration in southwest Idaho. And they’re using roadkill to do it.
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, Boise State University and Idaho Fish and Game created a series of motion-sensitive camera traps. They drag a 250-pound road-killed elk through the snow to the trap and leave. The cameras do the work, snapping pictures of whatever scavenger comes by for a snack.
This site, and hundreds of others put up by the USGS, has captured more than four million photos of wildlife, giving scientists a treasure trove of data. Most of the traps from the last decade of research have been in the Eastern U.S. This one is the first in Idaho.
Todd Katzner, a biologist with the USGS and Greg Kaltenecker with BSU’s Intermountain Bird Observatory were hoping to monitor golden eagle migration and distribution. But they also captured bald eagles, black-billed magpies, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and even bobcats on film.
Katzner says the information from Idaho could help inform wildlife management decisions for years to come.
Watch a video of the project in action below. Warning: graphic content.
Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio
Copyright 2016 Boise State Public Radio