View topic - cutting down Bald Eagles nest for wind farm

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PostPosted: January 9th, 2013, 10:10 am 
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I always thought Bald Eagles are protected under the Endangered Species Act?? Protection: The Bald Eagle is protected from being hunted or trapped throughout Ontario under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. In southern Ontario, the eagle and its habitat are protected in regulation under Ontario's Endangered Species Act, 2007. The Natural Heritage component of the Provincial Policy Statement under Ontario's Planning Act provides for the protection of significant portions of the habitat of species listed in regulation under the E.S.A.. In addition, Ontario's Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP) will provide 100% tax relief to private landowners for the portion of their property (minimum size 0.5 acres) determined to be habitat of species in regulation under the E.S.A. This program recognizes, encourages and supports private land stewardship. Bird Studies Canada, in cooperation with the Canadian Wildlife Service and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, monitors eagles in southwestern Ontario by counting the number of young successfully produced by each nesting pair, and by conducting pesticide analyses on blood samples from eaglets.
Yet the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has just allowed a nest to be cut down for a wind farm.... http://www.thespec.com/news/local/artic ... -farm-site farm

All is I can say is wow...... :evil: :doh:

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PostPosted: January 9th, 2013, 10:29 am 
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The cutting down of the nest is not the end of the story. Here's from the article:

Quote:
According to the Ontario Wind Resistance website, NextEra Energy employees cut down a tree limb holding the nest around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The Ministry of Natural Resources authorized the removal at the Summerhaven Wind Energy Centre last week.

“Removing the nest will reduce the risk of eagle mortality at the site,” the ministry said in the permit. “NextEra plans to provide artificial nests in the surrounding areas to ensure that the eagle pair can safely relocate.”


We have seen mitigation as part of MNR's processes all the time. Maybe the right question is to ask whether providing artificial nesting sites will work. I don't know. Does anyone know of examples where it worked for bald eagles?

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PostPosted: January 9th, 2013, 10:44 am 
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I think there is a root issue here at stake..... the Ministry knew for a very long time that this was an active nest site. Yet they only posted on their site on the Friday before the tree removal to inform the public. One can easily say.....oh the eagles will build another site, that's true! But the Eagles picked that site for a reason, what if they decide to build on another tree within the area of the wind farm??? What then???? These birds and their habitat ( nest) are protected under the law!!!! The only one's that can decided differently are the courts! Not some Ministry bureaucrats!

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PostPosted: January 9th, 2013, 1:54 pm 
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In Forestry management Plans, eagle nests receive a generous buffer from cutting activities, I'm surprised it's not the same in this case. I do question the information from the protester, Neil Switzer, who claims there are only 50 eagle nests in Ontario. That is a huge under-estimation, I've seen at least 25 in the area that I canoe in.


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PostPosted: January 9th, 2013, 2:05 pm 
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I fear this happening sets a nasty precedent regarding habitat and protection. Like Rob points out, in forest management it meant staying away from the tree, with a fairly large buffer.
After this latest development, it seems fine to develop/cut in a protected habitat with the promise to create a new one. Somehow we (Ontario, maybe other provinces too) have lost our environmental backbone.

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PostPosted: January 9th, 2013, 2:28 pm 
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Correct...we have lost our backbone. I had a similar problem with the Pinery Provincial Park and their controlled burns, that they said help protect the Oak Savannah. In their efforts to play God by burning the undergrowth and the prolific Jack Pine which the Ministry planted many years ago. ( which are not native to this region ) They said the burns would help the Oak Savannah and make for a healthier environment. I asked them what was the negative impact on several of their native reptile species like the Hog Nose snake ( listed as threatened ) and the Five Lined Skink ( listed as Endangered) Canada's only lizard species. I asked them if they thought the Skink could out run their fires as I had confirmed sightings in areas before their burns. They had no answer! Also the Jack Pine need heat ( fire ) to open up their cones to release their seeds......these were the very same trees they say they needed to get rid of! There again they could not answer my questions....why burn to open the cones and spread more seeds?
My point here is they weren't seeing the forest from the tree's, they were willing to do more harm then good by disturbing the natural function of the echo system, and to what cost to the other species and the natural environment?

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PostPosted: January 9th, 2013, 4:07 pm 
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It seems to me that these sort of trade offs are a necessary evil with any expansion of green power such as wind farms or flooding an area. I'm not sure that you could do anything of any scale whatsoever without affecting or impacting some animals/birds/turtle somewhere in Ontario.

For what it's worth I think the bald eagle was downgraded from "Threatened" to that of "Special Concern" on the list of protected species. Still requires protection, but certainly no shortage of them anymore, especially in the north.

Endangered Species Act classifications are as follows.
"Extirpated": A species that no longer exists in the wild in Ontario but still occurs elsewhere.
"Endangered": A species facing imminent extinction or extirpation in Ontario which is a candidate for regulation under Ontario's ESA.
"Threatened": A species that is at risk of becoming endangered in Ontario if limiting factors are not reversed.
"Special Concern": A species with characteristics that make it sensitive to human activities or natural events.


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PostPosted: January 10th, 2013, 1:13 pm 
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Correct they were down graded to Special Concern, given the Northern population but here in the south they are still threatened, thus taking a great care down here is necessary . It has to do with this slippery slope issue that the Ministry is presenting. By...... 1-only given one day public notice to prevent public quest. ....2 - the law is the law, they only enforce ESA, they don't get to read between the lines and willy nilly approve decision based on political pressures.

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PostPosted: January 10th, 2013, 1:18 pm 
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PostPosted: January 10th, 2013, 1:54 pm 
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To an extent, I agree with JF that some trade-offs will happen regardless. Often an attitude of compromise is the most effective. For hydro dams that can be things like guaranteeing minimum flows, providing fish ladders and using turbines designed to minimize or eliminate fish mortality on downstream flows.

In this case there doesn't seem to have been any effort to compromise. Quoting from the article: "It was built in a tree scheduled to be removed for the construction of a road, and within 20 metres of the blade sweep of one of the project’s 56 proposed turbines."

Based on that information, it would seem that the reasonable trade-off would be to reposition or skip a single turbine.

The only positive at the moment is that while the nest was "active", the breeding season for bald eagles doesn't start until February. That said, I don't agree that providing an artificial nesting platform is a valid mitigation step. We've had osprey's nesting near us for years with their nest firmly planted atop some hydro poles. Artificial platforms were erected years ago and they have never moved. In fact, due to maintenance over that time, the hydro lines have actually moved to new poles while the ospreys have stayed put.

If there were no suitable trees in the area, then erecting nesting platforms can be a good tool to help try and bring the eagles into the area, but they aren't going to make up for the nest removal.

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PostPosted: January 10th, 2013, 9:03 pm 
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Maybe there are a lot of political pressures at play here, I have no idea. But the ESA does allow for these type of actions if it is considered to be for the social betterment of Ontario. The following blurb from the ESA is pertinent to extirpated, endangered or threatened species. With bald eagle being classified as Special Concern, of somewhat lower significance, I suspect that after deliberation, the professionals are not overly concerned and likely think the eagles will nest elsewhere next year. Nesting trees blow down all the time - the birds just move.

ESA Permits (in part)

17. (1) The Minister may issue a permit to a person that, with respect to a species specified in the permit that is listed on the Species at Risk in Ontario List as an extirpated, endangered or threatened species, authorizes the person to engage in an activity specified in the permit that would otherwise be prohibited by section 9 or 10. 2007, c. 6, s. 17 (1).

Limitation

(2) The Minister may issue a permit under this section only if,

(a) the Minister is of the opinion that the activity authorized by the permit is necessary for the protection of human health or safety;

(b) the Minister is of the opinion that the main purpose of the activity authorized by the permit is to assist, and that the activity will assist, in the protection or recovery of the species specified in the permit;

(c) the Minister is of the opinion that the main purpose of the activity authorized by the permit is not to assist in the protection or recovery of the species specified in the permit, but,

(ii) the Minister is of the opinion that reasonable alternatives have been considered, including alternatives that would not adversely affect the species, and the best alternative has been adopted, and

(iii) the Minister is of the opinion that reasonable steps to minimize adverse effects on individual members of the species are required by conditions of the permit; or

(d) the Minister is of the opinion that the main purpose of the activity authorized by the permit is not to assist in the protection or recovery of the species specified in the permit, but,

(i) the Minister is of the opinion that the activity will result in a significant social or economic benefit to Ontario,

(ii) the Minister has consulted with a person who is considered by the Minister to be an expert on the possible effects of the activity on the species and to be independent of the person who would be authorized by the permit to engage in the activity,


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PostPosted: January 10th, 2013, 9:29 pm 
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Thanks JP for giving us the goods. Not that I agree with the law, though: that last sentence is one hell of a loophole:
"(i) the Minister is of the opinion that the activity will result in a significant social or economic benefit to Ontario,

(ii) the Minister has consulted with a person who is considered by the Minister to be an expert on the possible effects of the activity on the species and to be independent of the person who would be authorized by the permit to engage in the activity,"
There is too much leeway in (i), and (ii) is no safeguard at all since the Minister doesn't have to follow if that person is critical of the action.

To illustrate how weak the law is consider well-know environmental examples:
In the 1800, such a law would have done nothing to stop the extermination of the bison in the prairies, as the killing activity had wonderful economic benefits. And in today's Brazil, it would do bugger-all to stop cutting the rain forest. How old is that wording of the Law?

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PostPosted: January 10th, 2013, 10:53 pm 
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2007


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PostPosted: January 11th, 2013, 1:22 pm 
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Thanks! So that was two election removed from now. That's a while ago, but right along the today's tune: Trade trumps environment!

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PostPosted: January 11th, 2013, 1:51 pm 
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Hmmm. Are you suggesting that the wrong decision was made? That cliche seems a bit harsh when difficult decisions are required, and not many realistic easy alternatives available. I was under the impression that wind energy was somewhat more environmentally friendly than alternative sources. I dare say that anybody opposed to windmills (such as the Ontario Wind Resistance in this case) will have some sort of ESA concern available to them, whether it be caribou in the north, or wood turtles and/or barn owls in the south. Either we have to address energy requirements in Ontario or we don't. If we do, there has to be environmental compromises and mitigation. It's unavoidable IMHO.


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