NORFOLK--Removal of eagle nests at Norfolk Botanical Garden is legal and the City of Norfolk can continue efforts to keep them from rebuilding, the government said Thursday.
In October 2012, Norfolk removed several nests, some partially-built, after a female bald eagle was killed by a jet landing at Norfolk International Airport in 2011. No one on the plane was hurt.
The government said eagle strikes are an extremely high hazard for aircraft, the passengers and wildlife.
"We all enjoy the eagles. They're beautiful birds, but their safety and the safety of the flying public has from day one has been a priority for this city and these people involved," said City spokeswoman Lori Crouch.
She said the city is following the plan by the USDA Wildlife Services.
People who want the nests to stay formed Eagle on Alliance. They questioned the legality of continued nest removal, saying the ongoing efforts violated the federal permit.
"I don't think they've followed the permit to the letter. The permit says three nests and partial nests, Now define a nest for me. That's something no one has done," said Carl Senechal with Eagle on Alliance. "According to our experts and they are eagle experts, a nest consists one stick laid in a tree by an eagle."
Despite the latest ruling, Alliance members say they will continue fighting to keep future eagle nests in place. Norfolk will continue to make sure the nests come down.