Removal of an eagle’s nest tree in West Longview ruffles feathers | Local

It takes specific parameters and a lengthy clearance process to fell a tree with an active eagle’s nest, and that’s what Finch Drive LLC did on Finch Drive in Longview. However, neighbors who have watched the eagle pair nest there for at least a decade said they wished there was another way.

Kristy Neubo, who owns the apartment buildings adjacent to the property where the eagle’s nest was located, said she was an animal person and that “even though a permit was issued, that doesn’t make it correct” .

“The world is not ours, we share it with the animals,” she said, adding that now the neighborhood will no longer be able to watch the eagle eggs hatch every spring and “it’s awful that someone ‘one brings down his house “.

Bryce Clary, owner of Bud Clary Auto Group and Finch Drive LLC, said the company “has worked with the City of Longview and the USFWS and obtained the necessary permits to remove a dangerous tree from the property around Finch Drive in West Longview. “

“Our # 1 priority was and remains the safety of the environment on and around the property,” he wrote in an email Wednesday. “We have been working with a professional consultant and the USFWS, step by step, over the past 6+ months to follow the appropriate channels. “

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Longview Community Development Director Ann Rivers clarified that although the town was not included in any part of the licensing process, when disgruntled neighbors contacted the Eagle, she contacted the developer.

She said the clearance process appeared to be “quite long and expensive” and that a study of the pair of eagles found about three years earlier, their original tree had fallen into the swamp, so the eagles have moved to another tree. Rivers said the eagles again moved to a new tree nearby.

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The authorization process

There are only four situations where an active eagle’s nest can be removed, and removal requires mitigation, according to Matt Stuber, the US Eagle’s regional coordinator for fishing and wildlife.

The first is a safety emergency for humans or eagles, which he says is rare. The next is a human health and safety issue that is not an emergency, but in the long run could be a danger. A third reason is if the nest interferes with the purpose of an artificial structure, usually if a nest is built on a cell tower. The bottom line is whether the conducted or mitigated activity brings a net benefit to the eagles.

“These are the only four issues under which we can allow nest removal,” Stuber said. Only a few permits are issued each year, and almost always for bald eagles. The most common situation in which permits are issued is that of human health and safety issues, he said.

“The service really goes out of its way to make sure that when people tone down the take, we allow them, that we know they are going to save the number of eagles that we have allowed to take,” he said. , so the number of mitigation eagles will help is the same. or greater than the number affected by the removal of a nest.

US Fish and Wildlife does not view nesting permits as a regulatory process but rather as an additional conservation tool, Stuber said. Permits are designed to be mutually beneficial: they allow people to do activities that would otherwise be prohibited, and the eagle species as a whole benefits from broader mitigation measures.

“Eagles have more, they benefit from some sort of conservation on the ground,” he said, more than just moving a nest. Moving a nest would be more of a rectification, Stuber said, not the mitigation and broader conversation the agency is asking licensees to do.

For example, upgrading power poles that pose a high risk to eagles to reduce eagle mortality is a very common mitigation measure, Stuber said.

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He said he couldn’t comment on specific permits or mitigation measures, but to get a permit, anyone applying would have to follow the same strict guidelines for the situation.

Effect on eagles

When a nest is removed, eagles typically move around and build another nest, Stuber said.

“It’s hard to say exactly when, but bald eagles are tough enough and will likely find another place to build a new nest and be able to be successful and productive in another location,” Stuber said.

Any nest removal should take place outside of the breeding season, which is legally January 1 to August 31, to ensure that no eggs or eagles are injured.

The only exception is for emergencies, but Stuber said these are very rare and the department has specific protocols to follow to ensure no young are injured while in the nest.

Community reaction

For those members of the community who enjoyed watching the eagles raising their young in front of their windows, the loss is severe. Owner Neubo said when crews arrived to cut down the tree, the whole neighborhood was concerned.

“These eagles, everyone in the neighborhood had been watching them and their babies,” she said. “They didn’t need to destroy the trees. They could have developed around them.

Clary said the tree was unsafe, which was the basis for the kidnapping.

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Neubo said she tried to buy the land when it was first put up for sale years ago, to use it as a natural area, and asked to see the withdrawal permit. She said she was worried that the eagles would leave the area to make a new nest.

“It’s difficult, a difficult situation but what’s done is done and I don’t know what we can do,” she said.

People can become very protective of eagles, said US Fish and Wildlife’s Stuber, and “there are a lot of people who like to have eagles around, who like to be able to go and look at a nest and see the young grow up.”

“For a lot of people this is a really important thing,” he said. “We know there are a lot of people who watch eagles and are excited about eagles. We like it. This is a good thing. It is therefore not surprising that some attention is paid to these cases when a nest is occasionally removed. “

Stuber said the agency has an overview of eagle conservation, and the permits mean the removal can be done with minimal disturbance to birds and with a net positive for eagle conservation, although a specific nest is removed or a pair of eagles moves areas.

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“It’s a win-win, and even the service wins when we issue permits because we need oversight with those permits, so we are learning,” he said.

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