I am writing on behalf of the Cape Coral Wildlife Trust (CCWT). We are an organization formed to acquire conservation properties in our City in order to ensure that the wildlife on those properties are protected in perpetuity. Given our mission, we are particularly concerned about the proposal to change the eagle ordinance. We understand that a distance of 660 ft. has been deemed appropriate, but we do not agree with this. After reading the compelling information below, we are confident that you will see that the ordinance should remain as it is. (1100 ft.)
First, I would like you to keep this quote from the Proposed Ordinance 32-18 in mind. "The purpose of this chapter is to protect and preserve the bald eagle by protecting, enhancing and preserving the nest of the eagle and its immediate environs. With reasonable compensation incentives and proper management, the population of the bald eagle in Cape Coral can be maintained."
1. Protect: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Bald Eagle Management Guidlines; The Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act. A portion of this regulation states that their are penalties for any disturbance which will interfere with the life and longevity of the bird. Disturb means to agitate or bother a bald eagle to the degree that with normal breeding, feeding or sheltering behavior are negatively impacted. This definition also covers impacts resulting from human-induced alterations during a previously used nest site when eagles are not present. Examples of disruptions would be the noise created by heavy equipment, electric saws, hammering, etc.
2. Preserve/Immediate Environs: In order to truly preserve an animal, you must ensure that its existing state is maintained. When you reduce the area around the nest, you are also reducing habitat for the animals that eagles feed on such as rabbits, rats, possums, etc. You are not maintaining the existing site. This will cause more competition among eagles, which could eventually reduce the number of eagles.
3. Maintaining/Enhancing: If this ordinance truly "enhanced" the eagle population, the Cape would see an increase in the number of eagles from year to year. If habitat loss and other disturbances occur, it is unlikely this would occur. The ordinance speaks of "maintaining" the population. Any ordinance should go beyond merely "maintaining" the existing population. It should insist on conditions that result in an increase in the population.
Finally, there is something counterintuitive about any ordinance that may result in the reduction of eagle numbers at worst and possible maintenance at best while Cape Coral's human population is increasing. In a few decades, when our city reaches "build out," will ordinance 32-18 effectively eliminate this National symbol from the City of Cape Coral?
We trust you will give careful consideration to this issue. We appreciate the support of the Mayor and Council members of many of our past and present environmental concerns and feel confident that you will all vote to maintain the current eagle ordinance.
Cape Coral Wildlife Trust, Inc.
CCWT website: www.capecoralwildlifetrust.org