Eagle tree cut down deemed a danger

Christine Wood/Staff Writer / Staff writer
March 3, 2013 01:00 AM

Some members of the public are upset at the cutting of a tree that once held a bald eagle's nest on Silverstone Lane in Sechelt, but the tree was deemed a danger, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

"We were provided a report from a certified arbourist describing the risk of tree failure," Chris Gudgeon, spokesperson for the Ministry, told Coast Reporter this week.

Sechelt Mayor John Henderson said the matter is under the jurisdiction of the province because the District's tree cutting bylaw doesn't apply to properties less than 1.5 hectares.

"I am advised the homeowners were granted a permit to cut the tree on the grounds of it being a danger tree with potential for blow-down," Henderson said.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is responsible for the adjudication of permits under the Wildlife Act and got involved in this case because the act covers the nest itself.

They deemed the nest would have to be removed based on "the hazard of the tree failing."

The Ministry stipulated the nest would have to be removed and the work on the tree completed before this year's breeding season started.

"Our first choice in the review of these types of applications is to try to avoid the loss of the nest. We recognize that bald eagle's nests are highly visible and often highly valued features in a community," Gudgeon said.

Once the nest was removed, the property owners were free to top the tree; however, they must now complete a mitigation plan.

"The details of the mitigation plan are still being finalized," Gudgeon said. "However, it will focus on providing or improving nesting opportunities for eagles in the vicinity of the subject nest."

Local conservation officers did not have to sign off on the permit or approve the removal of the nest before the work was done, he added.

"The conservation officer service is essentially an enforcement agency. They are not directly responsible for the issuance of permits or licences; they're primarily responsible for enforcing them," Gudgeon said. "Fortunately, bald eagle populations in the South Coast are doing well. However, we must continue to ensure that adequate nesting substrate is available to them."

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