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Another raptor kill in Argentina

April 6, 2017

By Bryan Watts, Center for Conservation Biology  

José Sarasola has reported another large raptor kill in the La Pampa Province of Argentina.  José is the director of El Centro para el Estudio y Conservacion de las Aves Rapaces en Argentina (CECARA), the primary raptor research and conservation group in Argentina.  CECARA has been monitoring raptor electrocutions in the region for several years.

In July, CECARA found 96 raptors killed along 40 kilometers of electric lines between Chacharramendi and La Reforma.  Surprisingly, the electrocuted birds included 85 black-chested buzzard-eagles.  Their surveys over the next month located an additional 70 electrocuted raptors.  Nearly 95% of the eagles found dead and observed live were juveniles.  Birds appear to have converged on the location from a much larger region and were drawn there by a massive rodent outbreak.      

Black-chested buzzard-eagles are not common breeders in La Pampa but typically nest in the foot hills and mountains.   José believes that the young birds may have dispersed from northern Patagonia or the hills of Córdoba province.  Documentation of this event highlights important conservation concerns.  Hazards such as unprotected electrical lines may cause significant demographic impacts to wildlife.  These hazards may sit idle causing relatively little impact until some trigger such as a rodent outbreak brings a population into contact with them.  Finally, the impact itself may not be local but may be focused on distant populations as is the case here.

Overhead electric lines are a global conservation challenge.  Since the 1970s an international consortium of agencies, corporations, and NGOs has developed simple raptor-safe standards for power lines.  These standards should be used worldwide to reduce avian mortalities.  CECARA continues to investigate the population-level impacts of electric lines on raptor populations in Argentina including the endangered crowned solitary eagle.  

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