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					                                                                                    Local News
Posted on Fri, Jan. 14, 2005


Watchdog | Will house disturb bald eagles?
THE ISSUE
Since 2000, a pair of bald eagles has nested in a pine tree in the Pinsto Forest subdivision near
Belmont. A federal permit issued to the developer protected a three-acre area around the tree.
But neighbors say they were chagrined last fall to see a house under construction near the tree.
They say they haven't been able to get answers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which
protects eagles as a threatened species.

WE INVESTIGATE
A federal biologist who has monitored the eagles say no one has broken the law and the birds
seem to have adjusted to living at close quarters with humans.

Pinsto Inc., the developer of the 13-acre neighborhood where the eagles nest, got a federal
permit in 2001 that allows construction to continue with some limits, records show.

Among them was a half-acre buffer around the pine tree where the birds nested, bordered by a 2
1/2-acre open area. Building restrictions to control noise went into effect during the birds'
November-to-June nesting season.

The permit expired last year, but Pinsto applied for an extension. The old restrictions stay in
place until then.

An ice storm last winter destroyed the nest, but two chicks survived, adding to a string of
successful hatchings.

Richard Williamson, who owns the house under construction, started building in September with
Fish and Wildlife permission. But the birds, which migrate north for part of the year, returned
and began building a new nest in the same tree.

"Had I known the birds would come back, I would have waited," Williamson said.

He said he's followed Fish and Wildlife instructions to respect a 40-foot radius around the tree.
Mark Cantrell, a Fish and Wildlife biologist, said the eagles don't appear to have been scared off.
That's not unusual, he said. Bald eagles live in residential neighborhoods throughout the
Southeast.

A pair of bald eagles nested in a subdivision on Lake James, 80 miles northwest of Charlotte, in
2001. Their nest tree died, but the birds have since built two new nests nearby, Cantrell said.

				
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