FWC: Contractor permit valid to work near Manatee eagle's nest

skennedy@bradenton.comSeptember 19, 2013 

The FWC is investigating whether this bald eagle's nest has been disturbed by a nearby construction site. PHOTO PROVIDED

MANATEE -- A contractor working in Manatee County near a protected bald eagle's nest had a valid permit, but started work before he actually had a hard copy of the permit, a state investigator has concluded.

"The only violation we could determine is they had started work before they had the permit in hand," said Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The construction company, Blackrock Development Holdings, will be issued a warning in connection with the incident last week at a work site near State Road 70 and Lena Road, said Morse.

Blackrock officials could not be reached for comment late Monday.

Last week, volunteers taking pictures at the site saw construction activity going on, and wondered whether the nest was being disturbed, the Herald reported.

Investigator Scott Kirsch checked out the situation for the wildlife commission, Morse said.

"They did not violate any

conditions of the permit," Morse said. "The permit contains a significant number of conditions, beyond what normally would be expected. The company has been a willing partner."

Bald eagles are state- and federally protected birds.

The permit governs proximity of construction equipment to the nest, and any type of disturbance or noise in the area, Morse said.

Barb Walker of Pinellas County, a volunteer for a statewide Audubon Eagle Watch, said: "It is our hope that, permit or no permit, it is up to us to be respectful of bald eagles and to adhere to the bald eagle management plan."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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