Raptor Monitoring Program
Raptor monitoring gives useful tools to a land manager to assist in stewardship and decision-making. Raptors are a keystone predator, which is an animal without which the ecosystem would fail. Raptors are carnivores, and their food base is comprised of fish and mammals, and reptiles. If there is a lack or decline in raptor population, one of the reasons is often lack of prey species. So the top-level carnivores provide insight into populations of small animals within the Park. Also, some raptors have specific breeding and nesting needs that can indicate something about the functioning of the larger system. Bald Eagles and Northern Harriers are two good examples of how we can learn about pieces of the ecosystem puzzle, and whether certain areas of the Park may be experiencing excess disturbance.
The functioning of the Park ecosystem is dependent on raptors. By monitoring the presence of birds and nests, a clearer picture is drawn of the overall functioning of the system. Suggestions can be made about how to promote healthy system functioning as well. Besides these invaluable benefits, raptors are great charismatic creatures that are relatively easy and a whole lot of fun to monitor! It’s a great way to learn about the ecosystem, and get volunteers involved in public land stewardship and management.
This program would not be a success without the dedication and hard work of the Statewide Volunteer Program and the Park Volunteer Coordinators that assist with this program. This is truly a collaborative effort that is helping us to understand and appreciate our park systems!
Thank you to everyone who participates in this program!