Campbell River’s bald eagle nesting tree rules could take some ideas from the forestry sector. (Conservation Officer Service photo)

Campbell River’s bald eagle nesting tree rules could take some ideas from the forestry sector. (Conservation Officer Service photo)

Campbell River’s eagle tree bylaw could see improvements: biologist

Take notes from forestry industry’s riparian area rules, biologist suggests

While happy that the City of Campbell River has consideration for wildlife in its OCP, a fish and wildlife biologist says there is more that could be done.

Warren Warttig, a biologist and president of the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) in Merville. He wrote a letter of concern to the city about a tree that was home to a pair of eagles along the waterfront. The tree is near 201 Island Highway where according to his letter a “new active eagle nest … was not protected because it had not been registered through and OCP process.”

RELATED: Protecting Campbell River’s nesting trees lets eagles and humans coexist

“Someone was pruning a tree… and the eagles were being very vocal and showing a lot of signs of stress, but they continued to prune the tree,” Warttig explained.

Bylaws function by interpreting higher laws like the BC Wildlife Act and federal Migratory Bird Conventions Act at a local level.

“The city is bound to follow that, so what they do is set up their bylaws to try and follow that,” he said.

“A lot of … conservation officers don’t quite understand that relationship,” he added. “When they were notified by this group that was concerned about the eagle nest, they said it was the city’s responsibility. That’s only partially correct. Conservation officers actually work at a higher level of law than what the city does. They should be knocking on the city’s door and saying ‘you guys have an ineffective bylaw system here.’”

“I don’t want to come down too hard on Campbell River, because this is the first time I’ve seen it slip through the cracks,” Warttig added.

The Mirror recently spoke to the City of Campbell River’s environmental specialist Terri Martin, who explained the laws when concerning bald eagle nesting trees. Trees used for nesting are protected with a development permit area, which requires a 60-metre buffer zone. Those trees are added to a list when identified, but that process involves inspection as well as an OCP amendment. The city is moving forward with changing the process to where the trees can be added without amending the OCP, but that change has not been finalized yet.

“We can have some flexibility, there has to be a really strong biological rationale in order to change that,” said Martin about the buffer. “It has to be good for the eagles.”

Both agreed there was more that could be done to protect the eagles, which tend to live in the same areas as humans.

“Seventy per cent of all the west coast eagles are in the Salish Sea area during January-February,” Warttig said. “When you look at what percentage of the population of B.C. are within a kilometre of the ocean, it’s also 70 per cent.”

Warttig says that the city could take a feather from the forestry sector’s cap when it comes to eagle trees, which would close the gaps between local and provincial/federal laws.

“Every single stream is assumed to be fish bearing, and the burden of proof is on the forest industry,” he explained. “If the burden was proof was: before you go start cutting down a tree or pruning a tree within the municipality, (it) is on you to say there is not a nest, that way it takes it out of the hand of the city having to do broad-scale surveys and puts it into the person doing the potential impact.”

“In a way, the province has gone ahead a bit with the riparian area regulation,” he added. “What they’ve done is a lot of aerial analysis. They’ll make a development permit area, and that area needs to be looked at at the site level before any development can occur. A system could relatively easily be developed for the protection of a number of bird species.”

RELATED: The facts on eagle trees

Man fined $10,000 for cutting down eagle tree



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverdevelopmentEnvironmentWildlife

Just Posted

The City of Campbell River will purchase an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the Overdose Prevention Site after a letter from a local paramedic pointed out it doesn’t have one. Black Press File Photo
City of Campbell River to buy defibrillator for downtown Overdose Prevention Site

Local paramedic pens letter asking for city’s assistance after trying other avenues to acquire AED

Campbell River RCMP. RCMP photo
Two knife incidents reported on same day in Campbell River

Stabbing and knife fight both occured on May 13

Cash, drugs and weapons were seized by the Street Crimes Unit on May 12. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police recover cash, drugs and weapons after arrest

18-year-old arrested in Willow Point Park for drug trafficking

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read