Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lawsuit Filed On Eve Of Fourth Of July To Protect Bald Eagles

We filed a lawsuit today under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act on behalf of a grassroots group in Norfolk Virginia – Eagle On Alliance (EOA) – to stop the federal government from destroying the nests of the only nesting pair of bald eagles available for public viewing in Norfolk.  The eagles – a symbol of our country -- have lived for years at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.  Although the Fish and Wildlife Service issued the permits last fall for the stated purpose of protecting the public from an “eagle-strike” at the adjacent Norfolk International Airport, internal records obtained by EOA under the open records laws showed that the biologists consulted by the agency agreed that it was “unlikely” destruction of the eagles’ nests “would be successful” in keeping these or other eagles out of the area which contains extremely rich habitat for eagles and other birds, including Lake Whitehurst which is also next to the Airport.  In fact, although the City of Norfolk, with the help of USDA’s “Wildlife Services,” destroyed seven nests between October 2012 and March 2013 – each time waiting until nest construction was almost completed -- the Norfolk Eagle pair shows no signs of leaving the area.  Internal Records also show that although the Airport Authority recently spent millions of dollars renovating the Airport lobby, by constructing a massive skylight, marble-wrapped columns, and new terrazzo flooring,  it has failed to take basic steps taken by other Airports around the country to detect and deter birds from using the runways and surrounding areas.   However, the Eagle Protection Act requires that permits to take eagles or their nests must be “necessary” to protect the public from a safety hazard, and the FWS’s own regulations stress that such permits cannot be issued unless there is “no practicable alternative to nest removal that would protect the interest to be served.”   EOA seeks to halt further destruction of the eagles’ nests so that the Norfolk Eagles will have a chance for a successful breeding season.