Emotions Soar on the Wings of Bald Eagles

Urban Eagle Sightings

Editorial published on November 30, 2007, in Record Searchlight On-line:

Our view: It has been a rare treat to have bald eagles nesting in the heart of the city, but Caltrans has nudged the raptors away from a future bridge construction site as humanely as possible.

Word that Caltrans has capped an eagle nest to try to nudge the raptors away from its upcoming Highway 44 bridge reconstruction has a lot of bird lovers' feathers ruffled.

It's easy to understand their soaring emotions.

The surprise appearance in 2005 of a bald eagle nesting in commuter's-eye view of the freeway was a rare moment where wild nature and city life seemed to happily blend.

What could be worth disturbing this National Geographic scene?

A $65 million construction project in the works for a decade. "Dana to Downtown" is an essential city transportation link, widening the Highway 44 bridge to six lanes and adding a westbound onramp from Hilltop Drive that should dramatically ease traffic tie-ups.

Now or later, by gentle human persuasion or by the commotion of construction cranes, the eagles will be driven away. The birds have proven oblivious to the highway hum, but the pounding of piledrivers will take the neighborhood's noise up a few decibels.

After consultation with both Fish and Game and private bird-conservation groups, Caltrans concluded that red-tagging the 2-year-old nest before its residents return for the winter was the most humane alternative. Otherwise, birds would likely lay and hatch eggs, then be driven off when construction begins this spring, leaving helpless eaglets to starve.

That's hardly a better alternative.

Irked bird lovers ought to take some consolation in a brighter future.

Bald eagles, once near extinction in the lower 48 states, are thriving. If one pair nested in Redding's heart, it won't be the last. And the bridge plans include a walkway that will offer a fine perch for spying on birds in the tangle of islands at the bend in the Sacramento.

Nobody likes to see a noble bird evicted when it's just minding its own business, but in this case, the public's business takes precedence. And Caltrans doesn't deserve to be pecked to death for taking reasonable and humane steps.

Reference Link:  http://www.redding.com:80/news/2007/nov/30/emotions-soar/

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