Cloud Peak Energy’s Antelope mine received the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Industry Reclamation Wildlife Stewardship Award. The mine, located in northeastern Wyoming, was recognized for its successful efforts to promote population numbers of Golden Eagles and other raptors through habitat enhancement and use of effective protection measures, including rescuing a young eaglet that was later released at the mine following rehabilitation.
“Environmental safeguards and restoration at Antelope mine are a key priority for us,” said Steve Cowan, general manager of the Antelope mine. “The Powder River Basin provides natural habitat for a wide variety of birds and animals. Working with a broad team across the company and outside experts, we’ve been able to mitigate potential impacts while mining activity proceeds. We are demonstrating the ability to produce coal that provides safe, affordable and reliable electricity while at the same time being responsible stewards of the environment.”
Antelope mine implemented a unique and intensive monitoring program for the Golden Eagle territories located within the mine permit area. Since 2011, the mine has worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ecological Service Office and Migratory Bird Permit Office to ensure that mine operations do not negatively impact local Golden Eagle pairs.
Antelope mine’s intensive monitoring program, coupled with rapid operational adjustments, allows the mine to operate in proximity to eagle pairs, and at the same time fosters successful nesting of the area’s Golden Eagle pairs. In the spring of 2015, as a result of Antelope mine’s monitoring program, it was found that a Golden Eagle nest, previously near the top of the highwall, had fallen during an extreme storm. “Tumbler,” the young eaglet, had fallen to the bottom of the highwall. With the help of the Antelope mine personnel and the visiting biologist, Tumbler was rescued and temporarily relocated to the Ironside Bird Rescue facility in Cody, Wyoming. A transitory home was created where he was trained to hunt for himself, provided visual images of other Golden Eagles, and received only limited human contact to help keep him wild.
After a short stay at the bird rescue facility, the Antelope mine readily agreed to return Tumbler to his original nesting area, as this would provide the best habitat for his long-term survival. In August 2015, Tumbler and his companion from the bird rescue facility, Hobbit, were released into their new habitat on land adjacent to the mine.