March 3, 2021 |Eric Wuestewald | Wildlife

Tracking Golden Eagles and Protecting Wildlife at Camp Ripley, Minnesota

Golden eagles don’t breed in Minnesota, but they have been seen throughout the state most of the year. Eager to learn more about the eagle’s annual migratory cycle, as well as their habitat needs and population needs, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, alongside the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program, and Audobon Minnesota, purchased transmitters for the National Eagle Center’s Golden Eagle Project to track golden eagle locations along the Mississippi River.

3 3 216027292102 6c7f3f28d4 kPhoto by Tony Hisgett/Flickr.

Five of these eagles were captured, banded with trackers and released at Camp Ripley.
Originating from the Camp Ripley training center, thousands of data points were collected over the years, revealing that the eagles winter in the bluffs throughout the southeastern portion of the state from November to March, and travel over 2,500 miles to breeding areas in Canada’s remote Northwest Territories.

The Golden Eagle Project compiled multiple years of data points from these 5 birds into an interactive map that shows the natural range of the eagle population. Data from three remaining active transmitters continue to be posted to this site periodically for new information. You can learn more about the project and explore the interactive map here.

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We worked with Camp Ripley and the City of Baxter, Sylvan Township, and Cass and Crow Wing Counties in Minnesota to conserve 1,662 acres of critical wildlife habitat that were at high risk of development and conversion. These conservation achievements were made possible, in part, with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program. 908 acres of the protected area is a critical portion of the larger Sentinel Landscape, a roughly 805,000-acre boundary around the military facility essential for providing ecological conservation, public recreation opportunities, and educational opportunities.

3 3 21 Sturtle2.1Photo provided by Emilee Nelson.

Along with overwintering golden eagles, Camp Ripley and the surrounding area is home year-round to black bears, timber wolves, white-tailed deer, and state-threatened species such as red-shouldered hawks and Blanding’s turtles. All these animals need adequate forests and clean water to survive, and the Fund is protecting the lands they need most.

Written by

Eric Wuestewald

At the time of publication, Eric Wuestewald was the Digital Content Marketing Manager for The Conservation Fund.