KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency plans to set out 17 golden eagle bait stations across the state in an effort to help study the bird.
TWRA's state ornithologist Scott Somershoe told the Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1excovr) that the hope is to document the bird and perhaps to even capture and outfit them with transmitters to track their movements as they migrate.
"We're getting reports of golden eagles in western Tennessee and along the Mississippi River," Somershoe said. "We don't know where those birds are coming from, whether they're from a different breeding population than the eagles that winter in the mountains of East Tennessee."
Eagles have been documented in multiple locations in East Tennessee over the past two years as part of the study.
Somershoe said the study has found that golden eagles are more widely distributed across Tennessee than previously thought.
"This is one of the largest birds in eastern North America, and we know almost nothing about them," he said. "We are finding a lot more golden eagles than we thought we had."
Last year, a male eagle was outfitted with a transmitter after being trapped in Campbell County. It showed the bird, which was captured on Feb. 3, flew to southern Kentucky and back over the winter. The bird stayed in the area of Cumberland Lake State Park and the Daniel Boone National Forest for a month before returning to Tennessee and then heading north in the spring.
"It's clear that their breeding range is broader than we imagined," said Todd Katzner, a research assistant professor at West Virginia University and the principal investigator with the eastern golden eagle survey.