Homeowners should be aware of laws regarding eagle nests

A property owner should be aware of what the local laws are and how they pertain to their property

In response to Diedre’s concerns raised over property owners’ rights (March 8, Campbell River Mirror), I agree that a person should be in position of all of the facts before making judgement.

In this case I also believe that a property owner should be aware of what the local laws are and how they pertain to their property.

I would point Diedre to the interactive map provided by the City of Campbell River (at www.campbellriver.ca look under City Hall for City Interactive Mapping). In this site a property owner can zoom in on the area they live, and by clicking on “Bald Eagle DP Area” in the base-layer category they can easily see where the nest sites are, and many other features (e.g. streams) that could restrict development. Another link is also provided for the Official Community Plan (OCP), where on page 205 the Eagle Nest development permit areas are also documented (at www.campbellriver.ca search for Official Community Plan). The wildlife tree stewards (WITs) also have a web site of known nests (http://www.shim.bc.ca/wits2/main_public.html).

The OCP link contains information on the development permit areas around the identified features; all of these features were open for viewing and comment during the public outreach events associated with the creation of the OCP. The city encourages residents to contact the City’s Land Use Department with any questions about the mapping or interpretation of the guidelines.

Prior to tree removal (or any other land disturbance) it is important for a property owner to have some knowledge of their property including environmental features. Property owners can check with the city to see what rules might apply to their land. Development Permits aren’t just for the benefit of the City, they are also in place to limit a property owner’s liability.

If there is a reason to suspect that there are environmental features associated with the property, and help is required to determine if these features exist, there are a number of qualified environmental professionals in town and in nearby communities that can hired to complete an assessment or provide advice.

Bald Eagle nest trees, whether or not they are registered or mapped, are protected under the provincial Wildlife Act. Only the province can give permission to remove a Bald Eagle nest tree. If the tree poses a hazard (as assessed by a certified Wildlife Danger Tree Assessor) the owner must contact the provincial government for a permit through the Permit and Authorization Service Bureau 1-866-433-7272.

Information about development around Eagle Nests can be found on a Ministry of Environment web link at:http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/bmp/devwithcare2012/Fact-Sheet-10-eagles-osprey.pdf

If you witness a Bald Eagle nest tree being cut down, phone the provincial Report All Poachers & Polluters (RAPP line): 1-877-952-7277. This is a 24-hr call service that routes incidents to the Conservation Officer Service for potential follow up and investigation.

Some facts about Bald Eagles:

n Bald eagles are large (our largest bird of prey) weighing up to 15 kg and are the only true eagle on our coast (the golden eagle is actually a hawk); because Bald Eagles are large, they tend to have rather large nests (up to 3m in diameter).

n Even with the large nest size, it can sometimes be surprisingly difficult to see, from the ground, especially in a closed canopy forest.

n What is usually unmistakable during nesting periods (late January to early September) is the level of activity (it’s noisy), and the level of sign below the nest (it can be messy).

n The vast majority of Bald Eagle nests are within 500m of water (their primary food source). The further an Eagle nest is from water the lower the fertility. In other words we (the species with the large forebrain) need to ensure there is an adequate supply of suitable nest trees along our coast, rivers and lakes in order to sustain their population.

Warren Warttig, RPBio

President, Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society