News & Updates

EOA Challenges Norfolk’s New Eagle Permit/Amends Lawsuit to Name Airport as Defendant

Media Contact:  Carol Senechal

January 15, 2014




EOA names Norfolk International Airport as additional defendant

Norfolk, Virginia – – Eagle On Alliance (EOA) has filed a new complaint in Federal Court challenging the City of Norfolk’s latest permit that allows for the destruction of more bald eagles’ nests at Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG). On Tuesday, January 14, the Honorable Henry Coke Morgan, Jr., granted EOA’s motion to amend its original complaint filed July 3, 2013, including adding Norfolk International as a defendant. EOA is being represented by the public interest Washington, D.C. law firm of Meyer, Glitzenstein & Crystal.

The City obtained a permit last year that permitted the destruction of seven nests between October 4, 2012 and March 29, 2013. The City’s permit expired on October 31, 2013, but on November 14, 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued the City a new permit allowing it to continue to harass the eagles and remove their nests for yet another year.  Relying on the new permit, the City removed the eighth bald eagles’ nest at NBG on December 17, 2013 – after the eagles spent more than a month building their new home almost a mile away from the Airport. Here is a link to EOA’s video of the actual removal of the nest in December.

EOA added Norfolk International Airport (NIA) to its latest complaint citing the airport’s lack of wildlife mitigation efforts on its own property. According to federal law, the removal of a bald eagles’ nest should be the very last resort only after exploring ALL other options. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) violated its obligation that, before authorizing the destruction of an active eagles’ nest, it “must find” that “[t]here is no practicable alternative to nest removal that would protect the interest to be served.” 50 C.F.R. § 22.27(e)(4).  The FWS cannot make this showing, because the record demonstrates that the agency failed to ensure that the NIA itself undertook additional measures to deter eagles from using the Airport before authorizing the destruction of the nests of these eagles at the Garden. NIA currently holds all necessary FWS permits to keep bald eagles off of airport property.  EOA has also sued both the FWS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services (USDA).

EOA has sued the agencies and the Airport under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.  The Garden has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2005, and according to Don Buma, Executive Director of NBG, the nest removal activities are “damaging” the Garden. He encouraged the City and the USDA to “undertake further study and to explore actions that are directly Airport related rather than Garden degrading.”

Norfolk City Council member Theresa Whibley recently stated at an open meeting of Council that it was time to move to Plan B for protecting the Airport from eagles.  According to Carol Senechal, founder of EOA, “Plan B – which should have been Plan A – is for the City to stop asking for permission to destroy the eagles’ nests at the Garden, and instead turn its attention to increasing detection and dispersal of wildlife hazards at the Airport itself.”

Eagle On Alliance is a grassroots world-wide organization dedicated to keeping the Norfolk Botanical Garden Bald Eagles safe from any harm.

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Photo courtesy of Bob Mislan

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