Bald Eagle debate heads to court in Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Bald Eagle battle in Norfolk has made its way to court.

For years, environmentalists have fought the federal government and the city after two eagle nests were removed at Norfolk Botanical Garden. Aviation officials were concerned over recent bird strikes, since the nests are so close to the runways at Norfolk International Airport.

At issue in court is the permit granted to federal agencies to destroy the eagles nest.  The group Eagles on Alliance has named the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Department of Agriculture and the Norfolk Airport Authority in a legal action. But in federal court in Norfolk Tuesday, the latter two agencies, through their attorneys, motioned for dismissal as parties in the case.

The USDA attorney declined comment, but the airport authority attorney Richard Ottinger said, “I think the argument went well. No comment. We’ll see what the judge decides.”

An attorney for Eagles on Alliance, Kathy Meyer,said “61 eagles have come in to the airport, according to their own records, since the nests were destroyed at the Botanical Garden. That’s a 300 percent increase over what occurred before the nests were destroyed.”

The group doesn’t want to see the permit to destroy the eagles renewed in October when she says it expires. A federal judge will decide on the motion after he reviews records from the USDA.

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