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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

June 26, 2015DNR biologists document Golden Eagles at Marsh WMA in Marion County

In January and February 2015, S.C. Department of Natural Resources Region 2 Unit A participated in the Appalachian Eagle Survey. Staff conducted a Golden Eagle survey at Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Gresham, South Carolina to determine the presence or absence of Golden Eagles. The survey was part of a larger survey conducted across the eastern United States by Dr. Todd Katzner of West Virginia University and Kieran O’Malley and Rich Bailey of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists set up a camera trap site baited with deer carcasses found along roadsides. The camera trap ran from Jan. 12-Feb. 5 and captured a total of 1,944 photos. On Jan. 29, a three to four year old Golden Eagle was documented feeding on the carcasses in 10 photos. Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures, opossums, and Red-tailed Hawks also were photographed feeding on the carcasses throughout the survey. Other species captured on camera, but not feeding on the carcasses, were Eastern Wild Turkeys and White-tailed Deer.

Golden Eagles are North America’s largest bird of prey. With wingspans in excess of 6 feet and diving speeds of more than 150 miles per hour, these birds are quite impressive. Past researchers have assumed that Golden Eagles were rare vagrants in South Carolina, with wintering eagles staging further north in the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachian Eagle survey continues to demonstrate that, with well-placed bait, golden eagle sightings are much more common than thought in South Carolina and other southeastern states. This study has helped develop a more solid understanding of the true distribution of golden eagles in eastern North America.

Besides a possible Golden Eagle sighting, Marsh WMA offers numerous opportunities for outdoor adventurers. The 8,560-acre property is home to numerous species of resident and migratory birds. Other wildlife species, including American black bears, southern fox squirrels, and American alligators, also are found on the property. Annually planted food plots scattered across the property, big and small game species and ample fishing opportunity make Marsh WMA a sportsman’s paradise. Additionally, primitive camping is allowed at the designated camping area located by the informational kiosk.

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