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Construction Near Nest Sparks Suit

Thursday, January 5, 2017

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Two office buildings under construction and a pair of eagles are at the center of a controversy in Manassas, VA.

Local news reports say a group of environmentalists recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Interior claiming that the federal organizations should have issued a restrictive permit before land was developed near the eagles’ nest.

Bald Eagle in nest
National Park Service

Eagles are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Amber Taylor, a former animal welfare investigator and eagle advocate, claims that the construction of two office buildings and a parking lot has disturbed the nest of two bald eagles. The bald eagles have reportedly nested in a tree on city-owned land near the Manassas airport for four years.

She said the construction noise has caused the birds to fly away from the nest in the morning and not return until work finishes for the day, reports relate.

Permit Questions

The birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The regulations state that “a permit is required to remove or kill an eagle or to disturb it to the point that it abandons its nest or changes its nesting behavior,” the Washingtonian reports.

The landowner and developer, The Pruitt Corporation, had reportedly applied for a permit concerning the construction near the eagles’ nest but was told in a letter dated July 16, 2015, that it didn’t need a permit. The company did not immediately respond Wednesday (Jan. 4) to a request for comment.

"I'm furious that the organization in charge of protecting these eagles doesn't care," she told a local ABC television station following the matter. "There is so much more they could and should have done." Taylor and others started a Facebook group to discuss the Manassas Airport Eagles.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has yet to comment on the lawsuit.

Protecting the Birds

Last month, the service announced new permitting and monitoring requirements to conserve and protect eagles. In that announcement, Service Director Dan Ashe said, “No animal says America like the bald eagle, and the Service is using the best available science to make eagle management decisions that promote eagle conservation.

“Our success in recovering this bird when its populations plummeted in the lower 48 nearly a half-century ago stands as one of our greatest national conservation achievements.”

Taylor is hoping that a court will assist in getting permanent restrictions on the development to make sure the eagles are not further disturbed.

Meanwhile, the developer has changed lighting behind the office buildings at the request of the City. Taylor said that was a “small win.”

   

Tagged categories: Business matters; Developers; Environmental Protection; Lawsuits; Licensing; Office Buildings

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