Goshute Mountains Raptor Migration Project

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HWI and its organizational precursors have been studying the fall raptor migration in the Goshute Mountains of northeastern Nevada since 1980 when HWI founder Steve Hoffman and colleagues first began banding at the site. Standardized counts were begun in 1983 and have continued each year since. This is one of the longest running standardized migration-monitoring efforts in the West. This project runs from 15 August through 5 November each year. Annual counts typically range between 10,000-25,000 migrants of up to 18 species, making this one of the largest concentrations in the western U.S. and Canada.

 The Goshute count monitors long-term trends in populations of raptors using the Intermountain Flyway. In 2009, HWI conducted or co-sponsored 10 long-term standardized migration counts in 7 states and Veracruz, Mexico. The information gathered in these studies enables us to better understand the life histories, ecology, status, and conservation needs of raptor populations in North America. Because raptors are top-level predators, occupy large home ranges, inhabit most ecosystems, and are sensitive to environmental contamination and other human disturbances, they serve as important biological indicators of ecosystem health. Moreover, due to the remoteness and widespread distribution of most raptor populations, migration counts likely represent the most cost-effective and efficient method for monitoring the regional status and trends of multiple raptor species.

HWI's banding operations provide additional valuable information about migratory routes, breeding and wintering distribution, and the variations and health of individual raptors. More than 55,000 raptors have been banded at this site since 1980. In 1999, HWI also began tracking raptors banded in the Goshutes using satellite telemetry to learn even more about the breeding and wintering distributions and migratory habits of selected species.

HWI also initiated a migration-banding study of Flammulated Owls in the Goshutes in 2003, which continued each year through 2008 and resulted in the capture of more than 250 Flammulated Owls, as well as hundreds of Northern Saw-Whet Owls.

In addition to gathering important scientific data, the Goshute project provides opportunities for the public to learn about the ecology and conservation needs of raptors through on-site environmental education and interpretation conducted by full-time volunteer educators. Visitors are always welcome at the Goshute project site and education specialists are always on-site to ensure a worthwhile experience for all. The project site offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore a pristine part of our Nation's public lands while witnessing the raptor migration. HWI and the BLM (site managers) stress the principles of minimum impact and "Leave No Trace" to ensure that future visitors have the same opportunity and that the area does not become degraded either for humans or wildlife. To this end, we discourage large groups (more than 10 persons) from visiting the site. Otherwise, if you would like to visit the Goshute project with a group, reservations are strongly encouraged. Contact the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at (801)484-6808 ext 107.

Project Partners:
Bureau of Land Management - Elko District Office
West Wendover Tourism & Convention Center
Barrick Gold of North America
NV Energy
Schaffner Family Foundation
Salt Lake Roasting Company
Einstein Brothers Bagels
 

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