The eagle’s nest has been cleared, officials say
Contractors from the Meadow Lake West developers cut down the tree containing the nest on Friday near the 4200 block of Country Club Road Southwest.
Larry Dean, spokesperson for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said a federal permit has been issued for the removal of the trees so the developer can begin construction of a project at this site in 2022 without disrupting what could later be an active nest.
An active nest refers to a nest that has eggs or young birds that have not yet taken flight. Wildlife experts say bald eagles typically lay eggs in February and as early as January in this part of Minnesota.
âIt was their window of opportunity (the developers),â Dean said.
The Fish and Wildlife Guidelines state that a bald eagle nest may only be removed if the nest presents a danger to people or eagles, interferes with artificial structure and function of the structure, or if the withdrawal would “bring a net benefit to the eagles”.
Dean said he did not process the permit, but said the third directive was likely followed as wetland restoration is planned as part of the Meadow Lake West development.
âIt would seem to fit this particular project,â he said.
The proposal to fell the tree also required state approval, which was granted.
Although bald eagles were removed from the federal endangered species list in 2007, their nests still enjoy state and federal protection.
Lori Naumann, non-game wildlife program information manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said the eagles that occupy the nest have another nest nearby. Felling the tree now prevents eagles from using the Meadow Lake West nest. Their use of this nest would end the planned construction or put the eagles in danger of abandoning their young.
âThe birds could use their other nest (nearby) or build a new one,â Naumann said.
The birds will likely stay in the area, she added.
âI highly doubt these eagles will leave Rochester,â Naumann said. “They are loyal to an area where they are successful.”
Nearby neighbors who were concerned about the nest falling said the news was reassuring.
âThe entire Rivendell neighborhood is watching these birds,â said Sharon Gentling, referring to her neighboring Rivendell Woods neighborhood.
Gentling said she was alarmed and disappointed to see the nest collapse. Learning that the DNR thinks the birds have another nest, and that the removal has been authorized, was reassuring, she added. Still, she says, it’s disappointing to lose the nest and the tree.
Naumann said she was glad the neighbors were interested and contacted the DNR.
“We appreciate the public contacting us to let us know,” she said.
Naumann said the eagles would likely nest in their other location or have time to build a new nest nearby. The withdrawal took place before they likely had any eggs.
The eagles of southern Minnesota laid eggs earlier in the past decade. Naumann said this was likely due to climate change or the higher density of the eagle population prompting them to mate earlier in the year.
The population of bald eagles in this region of the Midwest has quadrupled since 2005, she added.