Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries issues a revised statement regarding the removal of its support of the NBG/WVEC Eagle Cam:
“Following the eagle airplane strikes last April at Norfolk International Airport, bald eagles were recognized as a serious strike hazard to aviation operations at the Airport. This conclusion was arrived at by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) program, which is responsible for resolving wildlife hazards to aviation, thus enhancing public safety. The USDA-WS was already in the process of conducting an ongoing comprehensive Wildlife Hazard Assessment at the request of the Airport and included these strikes as part of its overall evaluation. Individuals interested in learning more about the Wildlife Hazard Assessment, resulting Wildlife Hazard Management Plan, and/or bird/aircraft strike hazards should contact the USDA-WS office at 804-739-7739.
The final assessment, prepared by the USDA-WS, identified the eagle nests at the Norfolk Botanical Garden as a threat to human safety, due to proximity of the nests and the history of airplane strikes involving breeding eagles from this territory. It recommended that the Airport work with the Garden and appropriate regulatory agencies to prevent eagles from nesting near the Airport. Over the past eight months, a variety of management options have been considered by federal wildlife and airport safety experts, the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and the Airport.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency responsible for the management of bald eagles, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), the state agency responsible for the management of wildlife in the Commonwealth, have reviewed the information collected by the USDA-WS and have participated in discussions held with the Airport Authority, Norfolk Botanical Garden, USDA-WS, and the Federal Aviation Administration. We concur with the findings resulting from the Wildlife Hazard Assessment and are working with the principal partners to implement a solution that protects public safety and the eagles.
As the state’s wildlife regulatory and permitting entity, the DGIF may have a role in permitting whatever actions are taken at the Garden. However, the DGIF does NOT have a role in implementing on-the-ground actions that may be taken at the Garden or at the Airport. We were surprised about the decision to go live with the camera on January 24, although we had advised the Garden previously that we would have to step back from the Eagle Cam partnership. It is important to us avoid any conflict of interest.
We have been proud to help bring this educational opportunity to the public for so many years and look forward to working with our partners on future endeavors.”