NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A dark disappointment cast a shadow over the beauty of the Norfolk Botanical Garden Thursday following the removal of one and a half bald eagle nests.
"It's a sad day. I guess that sums it up," said Donald Buma, the Director of the Botanical Garden.
Buma says death is what the city is trying to prevent. The eagle nests, a favorite focal point on the property, are gone. The sticks that held them together were removed by hand Thursday morning. The entire removal process took about 10 minutes.
"It [the nest] wasn't as solid as they thought it was," said Buma. "It wasn't as compact as they thought it was. It was just up there lightly in the tree."
The city had the nest removed at the request of the federal government. The Federal Aviation Administration and the USDA made the recommendation after bird strikes killed two eagles that nested in Norfolk last year.
"When you have state and federal agencies coming to you, saying this nest in close proximity to the runway, which happens to be right there, is a significant hazard to the public and the eagles, it's in the best interest that this nest come down," said Lori Crouch, a spokesperson for the city.
Vocal eagle lovers tried time and again to stall the process, even asking the city to study other options. They say moving the nest will not stop the beloved birds from building a new one in a nearby tree.
"I think it will probably be a difficult time keeping them out," said Richard Garris, a bird watcher who frequents the garden. "They'll probably be back in no time, building somewhere else."
Until then, the only eagle left on the property is a statue, a tribute to what was.
"It was just a magnificent bird," said Garris.
The family of eagles nested at the Botanical Garden for eight years and millions watched their every move on a web camera.
The birds' nests, one whole and one partial, were chipped, meaning the branches were cut into smaller pieces and destroyed.
Noise techniques will be used to discourage the birds from returning to the nesting place. Techniques, such as paintball guns, will be shot at the tree as a deterrent. The city also chose this time of year because nesting season has not begun yet.
Avian radar was considered by the Botanical Garden board, but they were told the garden is too close to the airport for the radar system to be effective, according to Buma.
Last week, the Botanical Garden board members voted to form a task force to study other options, but the board had an emergency vote to move forward with removal after the city secured a permit from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries early this week.
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