Eagles avoid Ukraine along migration route due to war

A species of eagle has taken to avoiding the conflict in Ukraine while moving along its migration route, according to reports.

Researchers studying the migratory patterns of the greater spotted eagle noticed the birds have been avoiding Ukraine since Russia invaded in early 2022, according to the BBC.

“The war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on people and the environment. Our findings provide a rare window into how conflicts affect wildlife,” lead author Charlie Russell, a postgraduate researcher at the University of East Anglia, told the outlet.

The eagles commonly move through Ukraine on their way to Belarus, beginning their journey in either Greece or the southern part of Sudan. The research noted the eagles now frequent “fewer stopover sites and [are] making large route deviations” because of the conflict, with some deviations averaging 52 miles, which the research says can negatively affect the health of the birds.

“For a vulnerable species like this, anything that disrupts breeding performance is a major problem,” Jim Reynolds, a professor of ornithology and animal conservation at the University of Birmingham, said. “As a conservation biologist, you worry about that in a massive way.”

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The researchers from the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the British Trust for Ornithology published their findings in Current Biology.

The greater spotted eagle is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. “Vulnerable” is one step above “endangered,” and the greater spotted eagle’s population is now in decline, with more than 10,000 mature eagles in existence.

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