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Celebrating the achievements of landcarers

04/12/2017

The Tamar Island Wetland Cares Volunteer Group has been recognised in the 2017 Landcare Tasmania Awards.More

Horsetail Falls walk now open

15/11/2017

Visitors to the West Coast are in for some spectacular views on the new Horsetail Falls walk near Queenstown.More

Bruny Island Neck lookout re-opens

10/11/2017

The walkways and lookout at the Bruny Island Neck will re-open to the public today, following the completion of a new, larger car park that will provide improved access to the popular lookout.More

Wedge-tailed eagle

Current status

[Photo of wedge-tailed eagale by D. Watts.]

The Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi) is an endemic subspecies and is listed as endangered under the Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995. It is included in the Federal list as a critically endangered subspecies.

Why is it a threatened species here in Tasmania?

The wedge-tailed eagle is listed as endangered in Tasmania for several reasons. Firstly, the number of breeding pairs and the breeding success rate is quite low. Secondly death from unnatural causes remains high.

Nesting sites of these birds are recorded and collated onto a map revealing about 400 territories exist in Tasmania, although not all territories have successfully breeding pairs. Each pair usually lays one egg per year. Less than half of the territories produce a chick.

Changing attitudes

Those chicks that make it to fledgling stage still have to survive to adulthood. Juvenile birds are most at risk. They are still learning to hunt for themselves and are more likely to scavenge on dead lambs. Although attitudes are changing and it is recognised that lambing losses to eagles are relatively small, and usually involve sick lambs, wedge-tailed eagles are still being illegally shot and poisoned. Some farmers have developed more educated ways to deal with eagles during lambing, such as throwing the juveniles a few dead rabbits at this time.

What is being done?

The Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle has been subject to Recovery Plans since 1992. Actions have included increasing public awareness of the wedge-tailed eagle's plight, educating the public about the eagle's importance and consulting with farmers to protect nest sites and reduce disturbances near nests during breeding.

Wedge-tailed eagles are shy breeders, which means they may desert their nests if disturbed. By encouraging foresters and other land managers to retain at least 10 hectares of bush around nest sites more nests will remain active. These kinds of actions are being included in Forest Practices Plans as a result of Tasmania's Forest Practices Code.

Learning about the importance of wedge-tailed eagles and dispelling the myths of an eagle's diet has encouraged farmers to change their attitudes about these birds. Unfortunately the birds are still at risk from vandals, shooters who just like to shoot them because they are an easy target. Hopefully this attitude too can be changed.

Please report injured and dead wedge-tailed eagles immediately - phone (03) 6165 4305

View Distribution Map

Recommended further reading

Anon 1988. Living With Wildlife: Eagles. Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania.

Anon 1993. Forest Practices Code. Forestry Tasmania.

bell , pj and mooney nj (1998) the wedge-tailed eagle recovery plan 1998-2003. parks and wildlife service, hobart.

Gaffney RF and NJ Mooney 1992. The Wedge-tailed Eagle Recovery Plan. Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania.

Mooney NJ. and M. Holdsworth, 1991. The Effects of Disturbance on Nesting Wedge-tailed Eagles in Tasmania. Tasforests.

Mooney NJ. and R. Taylor, 1996. Value of Nest Site Protection in Ameliorating The Effects of Forestry Operations on Wedge-tailed Eagles in Tasmania, in (eds) D. Bird, D. Varland and J. Negro, Raptors In Human Landscapes: Adaptations to Built and Cultivated Environments. Raptor Research Foundation, Academic Press.