Destroying bald eagle nest

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PAOV — An active bald eagle nest, home to a breeding pair and their eaglets, is being put at risk by a luxury home development in British Columbia. Developers plan to “cone” the nest this fall, which will cover the nest and force the eagles to abandon it. Eagles mate for life and return to their nests each year. A local advocacy group is urging the government to protect the eagles by rejecting the developer’s application to build in the area. If you think that the nest should be protected, sign the petition now.

Prevent coning of Bald Eagle nest at UBC

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UBC Properties Trust / Polygon Homes plan to cone an active Bald Eagle nest (which currently has eaglets in it) this fall, in order to start on a building development nearby. The nest is situated on the campus (University Endowment Lands) at the intersection of Ross Drive / Birney Ave. We are not opposing housing development within the general area (we are very much in favour of more housing!) we just believe that the 160m area around the nest should be protected, in accordance with B.C. legislation.

Please sign our petition to help us try and prevent coning of the eagle nest!

What is coning?

“Coning” involves placing a large metal cone on the nest, to prevent the eagles from using it. There is no academic research to suggest that this practice encourages eagles to move to another nest. It is likely that if the nest is coned, the eagles will not return, and a breeding pair will be lost to the area.

Bald Eagles

Bald eagles can live for 30 years and mate for life. Their nest can take three months to build and they often return to the same nest year after year, before passing on the nest to later generations - twigs over 100 years old have been found in some nests! There are very few breeding pairs in the Vancouver area, but this particular pair have been using the nest since at least 2017 (much longer according to local knowledge keepers, who were not consulted for UBC Properties Trust’s report). Habitat loss is a real problem for Bald Eagles, whose numbers have only recently recovered from being endangered: “The loss of shoreline nesting, perching, roosting, and associated aquatic foraging habitat to human development represent the most significant components of habitat loss to Bald Eagles throughout their range.”(1) This year has seen low nest success rates, particularly in Southwestern B.C., in part due to avian flu, making it even more important to protect these birds (2).

Bald Eagle nests are protected under section 34 of the BC Wildlife Act, which makes it an offense to “possess, take, injure, molest or destroy (a) a bird or its egg or (b) the nest of an eagle [...]”. In order to cone the nest, the Trust / Polygon will need to apply to the Ministry of Forests for a permit to get around the legislation protecting Bald Eagle nests. We hope that support for this petition can demonstrate that this permit should not be granted.

Building work and this nest

Loud building work was carried out between 2017 - 2021, much closer to the nest than the 160m “sound buffer” recommended by the BC government. The eagles kept returning to the nest and tried to mate several times during this period, but they were unsuccessful. In 2022, the first year since 2017 that there was no nearby building work, they successfully bred and raised eaglets. Despite this, UBC Properties Trust and Polygon Homes now want to cone the nest this fall in order to press on with more building work in the area.

A much smaller artificial nest has been built 200m away, halfway up a tree with restricted access. This will still be disturbed by building work, and is unsuitable as a replacement - Bald Eagle nests are always built at the top of trees, with unrestricted access and sightlines (3).

A word on the housing situation

The housing crisis is very real in Vancouver, but this development is not for student / staff or low cost housing, just for yet more luxury and unaffordable homes. There are many other sites within the UBC endowment lands that are available for building projects - we are just asking for this one small area around the nesting tree (a circle of 160m in radius) to be protected from development. This appears to be a cynical attempt to ignore environmental legislation when it gets in the way of profits.

Bald Eagles have proved that they can co-exist well with people - this pair seem happy to continue nesting in the middle of a busy residential area. We are not asking for wildlife to be protected with no regard for people’s urgent need for housing, just that the legislation protecting Bald Eagle nests be respected and these birds be allowed to continue living among us.

More information and further action

For more information, please see Charles Menzies’ excellent blogs: https://charlesmenzies.substack.com/p/eagle-nests-ubc and https://charlesmenzies.substack.com/p/eagles-nest-followup

The consultancy report produced for UBC Properties Trust, which recommends leaving a noise buffer zone around the tree and does not provide any justification for coning the nest, can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ZHDTUahZPh0AtHNJqPvG9ABp_20MsHft/view

If you would like to take further action, please contact the Minister of Forests, the Honourable Katrine Conroy, to request that this permit application is rejected: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can also contact the people involved:

UBC Properties Trust: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

UBC (Matthew Ramsey, Director of University Affairs): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Polygon Homes: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow us on Twitter for updates: @saveUBCeagles

Footnotes

(1) and (3) Page 53 of Guidelines for Raptor Conservation during Urban and Rural Land Development in British Columbia (2013) /https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/best-management-practices/raptor_conservation_guidelines_2013.pdf )

(2) https://www.pqbnews.com/news/b-c-bald-eagle-nest-success-threatened-amid-avian-influenza-outbreaks/

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