After a string of “bad luck” days trying to capture golden eagles in the Shirley Basin north of Medicine Bow, wildlife biologist Mike Lockhart decided to bring along a friend, Nancy Rose of Lakewood, Colorado. She’d already joined Lockhart on a half-dozen eagle-trapping missions, all fruitless.

But their latest trip to the field in August proved successful.

“It was a good day,” Lockhart said. “We had two birds down [on traps] and caught both birds and got tags on both of them.”

The first was a 2-year-old male and the other an older female. The female, according to tracking data, immediately flew south and seems to have settled in a known breeding area outside Medicine Bow, according to Lockhart. “The area almost perfectly overlaps the breeding territory of a male adult that I caught over a year ago,” he said.

This golden eagle was sampled, tagged and fitted with a GPS “backpack” in August 2022 as part of ongoing research in anticipation of expanding wind energy development in Wyoming. (Mike Lockhart)

Lockhart has been trapping, tagging and tracking eagles in the region for several years. The data he collects will help federal wildlife officials better understand potential threats from an expanding wind energy industry and how to configure wind turbine facilities in ways to reduce collisions with golden eagles and other birds.

The experience of working hands-on with wild eagles is awe-inspiring, Lockhart said, even after live-trapping more than 180 of the creatures. For Rose, the recent outing was “an experience of a lifetime.”

“I have a mantra,” Rose told WyoFile via email. “‘There are no words for some things. That’s why I paint.’ I feel that way about this experience.

“When I recall the experience,” Rose continued, “I am aware of a feeling of something welling up in my body, filling and expanding me. I cannot name such a complex feeling accurately. I think how fortunate I am to have looked into the eyes of eagles.”

Dustin Bleizeffer

Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 22 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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  1. A good read’ When I owned 5000 acres Moore Spring Hills Ranch’ I was amassed at how these big birds get used to your Voise’ and soon when your riding they will come and see if it is you’ then go on they daily fleet’Enjoyed the read Thank You Elwood Rave