Eagles Evicted--Then Invited Back for Supper

Wildlife News

From the Record Searchlight On-line


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Our view: If the eagles ignore Caltransí prodding and stick around the Highway 44 bridge project, they will be elaborately coddled.
Persistence is an all-American virtue, so it's fitting that bald eagles, the symbol of our nation, would stubbornly cling to their nesting sites. No pesky bureaucrats will push them out of their tree, bridge replacement or no.

But even as Caltrans wins widespread scorn for its efforts to shoo away a pair of eagles near Highway 44 in Redding, the eagle-management plan drawn up by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so thoroughly coddles the birds that they'd be fools to leave.

If the birds don't take the hint and fly the coop, Caltrans must specially shield and angle its lights during night construction to avoid spoiling their sleep.

Bridge crews must halt work if any "disturbance is observed." (What do you call the past few weeks' follies?)

The planned bike and pedestrian route linking to the Sacramento River Trail will be signed to discourage strollers from stopping and looking at the birds, which can disturb them. (Note to Fish and Wildlife: Those signs will succeed about as well as the nest cone.)

And best of all, if the resident eagles are found to forage for meals within 660 feet of the bridge -- likely enough, because that's where their nest is -- Caltrans will have to feed the birds.

That's right, the welfare raptors would be entitled to two pounds of large fish in each of two feeding sites, five days a week in January and February. The daily dole would rise to four pounds of fish at each feeding site from March through September. And if ravens, coyotes or others scavengers get the jump on the free fish, Caltrans is required to put out more -- or even fence off private feeding grounds for the eagles' lunch.

The wildlife agencies are no doubt doing their best to manage the awkward eagles as federal law requires. The prime goal is to see no eggs or eaglets abandoned in the nest, and the cone was worth a shot.

But trying to evict the birds one month while serving them supper the next stretches the boundaries of logic.

Many of their fans say the eagles would be better off left alone to decide whether to stay or go. That management plan would certainly improve the habitat for the taxpayers who are footing the bill for this whole fuss.

Reference Link: http://www.redding.com:80/news/2007/dec/18/eagles-evicted/

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