Advocates want more protection for Jordan Lake Park's bald eagles

Anthony Wilson Image
Sunday, January 8, 2023
Advocates want more protection for Jordan Lake Park's bald eagles
An ABC11 viewer is warning others to stay alert after an Eagle's nest was spotted at Jordan Lake.

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- An ABC11 viewer is warning others to stay alert after an eagle's nest was spotted at Jordan Lake.

The alert that was sent to ABC11 stated:

"Eagles are once again occupying a nest at Picnic Area A, Shelter 8 at Jordan Lake. The area needs to be closed immediately as Federal Law does not allow humans within 330 feet of an active nest. (The actual law states 660 feet but many jurisdictions are using 330 feet currently despite Federal law.) Chicks were lost last year when the nest wasn't protected. Please don't let this happen again as it is very easy to prevent as all that is needed is closing that one area until the chicks fledge which should be in June. It is also a great teaching tool as the public is becoming more aware of our wildlife being endangered by humans."

We sat down with Dr. Ellen Tinsley, a veterinarian and passionate advocate for the bald eagles of North Carolina. During a conversation at Jordan Lake State Park, she said too much attention from people who want pictures of the eagles has frightened the birds, with dire consequences.

"There were two eaglets in that nest, almost to the point of fledging, and like any bird will do when they're scared, they try to fly," she said.

Tinsley said one of those eaglets did not survive, but the parents did return eventually.

"They don't want to just suddenly give up a nest. A lot of energy goes into it," she said. "So, they came back, started repairing the nest."

Tinsley says people who come within 300 feet of an active eagle's nest are violating federal law. She considers those spectators a bigger threat to eagles who don't live in nests, like the one we saw, but attack other eagles.

"But that is a normal part of nature," she said. "That is not people who should know better, underneath the nest, okay?"

John S. Hammond, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist shared this statement with ABC11:

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works to conserve and manage both bald eagle and golden eagle populations to assure both species continue to thrive.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection act prohibits anyone from disturbing the birds without a permit. Disturb means to cause injury, interfere with normal breeding, feeding and sheltering behavior or nest abandonment. Penalties for doing so could result in fines up to $5,000 or imprisoned up to a year or both. The Service has developed a National Bald Eagle Management Plan that helps to determine appropriate buffers and distances from certain activities to protect our bald eagle populations.

Bald eagles are increasing in numbers throughout the State, showing greater tolerance to human presence and establishing new nesting territories closer to development.

This expansion of territories exposes them more frequently to human activities, and they continue to adapt. We are committed to working with others to continue advancing eagle conservation and protection while enabling partners to meet their operational goals.

We are aware of the bald eagle nest near Shelter 8 in the Ebenezer Day Use Area at Jordan Lake State Park and will continue working closely with state park partners to establish management of this eagle nest to ensure appropriate protections are implemented in accordance with federal law."

Dr. Tinsley's concerned about a park monitoring system under consideration for the eagles, and she shared a transcript of the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act:

"The bald eagle is protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act even though it has been delisted under the Endangered Species Act. This law, originally passed in 1940, provides for the protection of the bald eagle and the golden eagle (as amended in 1962) by prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit (16 U.S.C. 668(a); 50 CFR 22). "Take" includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb (16 U.S.C. 668c; 50 CFR 22.3). The 1972 amendments increased civil penalties for violating provisions of the Act to a maximum fine of $5,000- or one-year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction. Felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment. The fine doubles for an organization. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act."

Dr. Tinsley also wrote:

"If John Hammond of the US Fish and Wildlife Service had followed these monitoring he should have, he would have had to tell the park to close the gate to shelter 8, but he didn't and now the park system is soliciting monitors to be trained by someone who is lacking in any kind of bald eagle experience."

We'll update this story on air and online, as we get word of new developments.