The peregrine falcons nesting on the Joseph Smith Building aren't the only birds having a tough time ("Despite 4 eggs, peregrine falcons may have only one offspring," Tribune, May 28). Other wild raptors, notably golden eagles, are struggling in Utah's West Desert.
Unlike downtown's peregrines, scientists have some ideas about what's causing the eagles' decline. Recent studies show that the spread of invasive and extremely flammable cheatgrass pushed the eagles over the edge in 2007, when large fires, including the Milford Flat blaze, swept through the region.
The increased intensity, duration and number of fires are due to cheatgrass on land with far fewer shrubs, fewer prey animals hiding in those shrubs and a 50 percent decline in golden eagle nest success, compared to the pre-fire period of 1998–2007.