Campbell River Mayor proposes measure to protect eagle nests

Impose penalties on anyone who cuts down a tree in which eagles have made their home

The mayor is proposing a crackdown on tree falling in order to protect eagle nests.

Mayor Walter Jakeway was expected to bring forward a motion at Tuesday’s council meeting that would impose penalties on anyone who cuts down a tree in which eagles have made their home.

Jakeway’s motion is to have city staff “report back on options for council to adopt bylaw regulations and corresponding fines that would serve to help protect eagle nest trees.”

The proposed motion is in response to an incident that occurred last year. On the morning of Feb. 27, 2012 a property owner cut down an active bald eagle nest tree located on the ridge south of Rockland Road. The tree, which was registered in the province’s nest tree database and mapped in the city’s Sustainable Official Community Plan as an environmentally-sensitive area, was supposed to be protected under the Provincial Wildlife Act.

Any disturbance within a 60-metre area around a nest requires a city development permit and only the province can authorize the removal of an eagle nest tree. The city’s development permit guidelines also require a 60-metre naturally-vegetated buffer around the eagle nest tree. However, the city has no enforcement tools at its disposal, specifically fines or penalties.

Jakeway said last year he was disappointed the city did not have better protection for eagle nest trees and promised that would change.

He said if he had his way, the city would impose hefty fines – $1,000 per growth ring. It’s estimated Campbell River has 25 bald eagle breeding territories within the city limits. Preventing the loss of nesting trees is key in ensuring the long-term viability of the eagle population. But that’s proven to be difficult. According to the province’s Wildlife Tree Stewardship Program’s 2010 report, all known eagle nest trees in two nesting territories in the Willow Point area have been cut down. The report also noted that between 1990 to 1999 from Qualicum Beach to Campbell River, 17 of 253 known nest trees have been lost, in the same areas.

Council was expected to debate Jakeway’s motion at Tuesday night’s council meeting.