Eagle protection falling by the roadside

Recently we got the good news that our national symbol, the bald eagle, had recovered enough in the Lower 48 to be removed from the endangered species list. Many people were pleased at this information, especially folks that enjoy birding like members of Juneau Audubon. But, as often happens, there was a downside to this good news.

The agencies that protect our bald eagles, US Fish & Wildlife Service and Alaska Fish & Game, are allowed to “relax” the previous rules for protection of the birds during nesting from construction and maintenance. Juneau Audubon Society is particularly concerned about the permit and variance request for the road improvement and widening from Eagle Beach to Bessie Creek. This particular case concerns at least seven nest trees. Unlike before, this permit does not limit blasting or endangerment of active nests during egg laying (March 1 to June 1) or raising eaglets (June 1 to Sept. 1). The Department of Transportation has stated that efforts will be made not to disturb the nests, but blasting will occur during these months.

We are very lucky to have an abundant and healthy population of bald eagles in Juneau. For many of our summer visitors, our ‘urban’ wildlife, especially the eagles, are the highlight of their trip.

Although USFWS and ADF&G are permitting this reduction in protection, Juneau Audubon would like you to know that if you would like to have your opinion heard, you can attend the Planning Commision at City Hall on December 20, 2011. You may testify in writing or in person. Please help us to maintain the highest protection for our bald eagles in the City and Borough of Juneau. To contact Juneau Audubon board members please find our e-mail addresses at www.juneau-audubon-society.org.

Brenda Wright

Juneau Audubon Society

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