Hawk Mountain helps to advance global raptor monitoring

ALBANY TWP., Pa. - From Berks County to outer space and around the world, tracking raptors is about to become more efficient and cost-effective, according to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

An antenna that will aid raptor monitoring programs was delivered Monday to the International Space Station by an unmanned Russian supply ship.

The international team of scientists, statisticians, and movement ecologists that helped jumpstart development of the venture met at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in February 2009.

"A dream-come-true for raptor migration science owes its origins, in part, to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary," said Dr. Keith Bildstein, Hawk Mountain's director of conservation science and Interim president. "We have played a pivotal role in this great leap forward."

The new antenna, part of the International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS), will help reduce the cost of tracking raptors globally from more than $4,000 a unit to less than $600, Bildstein said.

In addition to the monitoring of the migration of small animals around the globe, the observation system will also be able to investigate the spread of diseases and may be able to forecast natural disasters, according to Bildstein.

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