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Bald eagles and their nests protected in Florida

News Release

Monday, March 07, 2011

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

A pair of nesting bald eagles in downtown Naples has raised questions about the protections in place now that bald eagles are no longer listed as endangered. The species that came back from the brink of extinction to more than 1,200 nesting pairs in Florida in 2007 is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) bald eagle rule.

The FWC also administers the state's Bald Eagle Management Plan, which lays out the recommendations and permitting guidelines for activity near an active bald eagle nest. The goal of the plan is to maintain a stable or increasing population of bald eagles in Florida in perpetuity.

The pair in downtown Naples came to the attention of the FWC when it received reports of construction going on near the eagle nest. FWC officials visited the site and discovered two eaglets in the nest.

"When I went to visit the site, the construction managers had already suspended work. The adult eagles were at the nest, and the eaglets appeared healthy," said Michelle van Deventer, the FWC's Bald Eagle Management Plan coordinator. "This is an unusual situation, but as the populations of both eagles and humans grow, there will likely be more incidents of people and eagles living in close proximity.  This is an opportunity to create awareness of state and federal laws that protect the bald eagle, and teach people how they can help eagles survive in urban environments."

The FWC recommends a protective buffer of 660 feet or less from nests. Exterior construction and site-work within 330 feet of a nest should be avoided during the nesting season from Oct. 1 to May 15 or when eagles are present. Noise and disruption from a construction site can cause the birds to abandon a nest or result in eaglets prematurely jumping from the nest.

Eagles nesting in populated areas are not likely to be disturbed by routine use of roads and homes. Therefore, in most cases, existing activities can continue with little risk.  However, new or irregular activities may need to be adjusted or rescheduled to minimize disturbance to nesting eagles.

For more information, go to or e-mail van Deventer at The eagle website also provides a database to locate documented bald eagle nests and view their locations.

Residents can help conserve bald eagles in Florida by following state guidelines when conducting a project. Any potential violations of wildlife laws may be reported to the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

FWC Facts:
Flounder begin their lives with eyes on either side of their head. As they grow, one eye migrates so that both eyes are on the same side of the head.

Learn More at AskFWC