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New Golden Eagle exhibit at Draper Natural History Museum

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Cody – If you are tired of hearing stories about people fighting over issues, you should go to Cody, to see a story about the energy industry, native Americans, scientists, and the government cooperating to preotect America’s largest and most powerful aerial predator. The story is told in a new museum exhibit.

It’s all about the golden eagle, which hunts and raises its young across the west.  Monarch of the Skies is a new permanent exhibit at the Draper Natural History Museum. The exhibit is about a study on the Golden Eagle in Northwest Wyoming, and other studies across the country.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service Golden Eagle Team Coordinator, Brian Woodbridge said, “The Big Horn Basin is one of the more intact, relatively stable ecosystems that anyone is studying golden eagles in.”

Woodbridge came to help introduce the new exhibit. He told a large crowd about eagles dying from lead shot, car collisions, and colissions with wind turbines.  He said the energy industry in Wyoming, is testing solutions.

He explained,  “Camera based sensors that can be connected to a computer that can be trained to identify eagles or other large birds… The signal gets sent to a wind turbine that have a clutch that can stop them within seconds.”

If you want to know more about something you see on the big screen, you just push a button.  If you want to know how your wingspan compares to a golden eagle, you just spread your arms in front of an eagle outline.  If you want to know more about how nearby Indian Tribes connect to Golden Eagles, watch the lesson by Crow scholar Dr. Emerson Bullchief.

Exhibit Co-Curator Bonnie Lawrence-Smith said, “And Emerson was just such a great spokesperson, to come and to express to us how important these golden eagle feathers are, were, will continue to be into the future.”

A golden eagle feather war bonnet is part of the exhibit, thanks to the Plains Indian Museum. Curator Rebecca West says this is collaboration, that is often left out of other discussions.

West said,  “You have often times the scientific approach, and then government regulations and then you have cultural needs. And most often those are not working together. “

Exhibit curator, and scientist Dr. Charles Preston has leading the  golden eagle study in the Big Horn Basin near Cody for ten years.

He explained,  “They are the apex predator for most of the environments that they live in.  And those environments in the American West are changing very rapidly.”

Preston said the studies help scientists understand how the changes affect wildlife in the system.