BRADENTON -- What could be perceived as a threat to a pair of nesting eagles along State Road 64 East earlier this week sent wildlife protectors into a frenzy.
The owner of the property at 5004 S.R. 64 E., Sego Ventures of Palmetto, called code enforcement about demolishing the existing structure, where multiple violations were found during a November 2014 inspection, said Jeff Camden, Bradenton building official.
The code enforcement board gave the owner a limited amount of time to make the repairs to have the fines suspended. That deadline is drawing near.
Representative of Sego Ventures could not be reached for comment.
Camden said the owner had wanted to voluntarily demolish the building to satisfy the code-enforcement findings, but he was informed that there was a nesting pair of eagles on site and that additional permitting would need to be approved through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
In a conversation with code enforcement administrative assistant Kimberly Murphy earlier this week, the property owner had asked, "What if I make them go away?"
Various members of eagle watch groups learned of the threat and contacted county officials, who informed the city of their concern. Statements in the emails to county officials assumed the owner was going forward with demolition, which would be illegal in Florida.
According to John Sakett, of Lone Wolf Nature Photos, who serves as an eagle watcher for the Manatee Audubon Society, "Exterior construction of any type, including demolition, would not be allowed between Nov. 15 and May 15 within 330 feet of any nest. We heard about this demolition threat and the alarm went off because we have a baby in the nest. Even in offseason, property owners are expected to take every reasonable measure to not disturb a nesting area."
Sakett has been monitoring and photographing the nest since the birds returned in October to begin refurbishing their existing nest.
He said the eagles have been using the same nest for years and their one eaglet is about 2 months old.
Lisa Taylor of Sarasota Land Services works next door to the abandoned building and confirmed the presence of parents and baby.
"I see them all the time and you can hear them squawking a lot," she said.
According to the violations posted on the building, code enforcement inspected in mid-November. The presence of an eagles nest means no work on the building can be done unless the property owner goes through the city and FWC for permitting.
The owner is in a tough spot but does have avenues to pursue, according to both city and FWC officials.
Camden and Gary Morse, spokesman for the FWC in Lakeland, said the owner has not applied for permits related to the property.
Camden said there was a lot of misinformation in the emails, but he expressed concern over the owner's comments about making the eagles go away.
"The city of Bradenton will do everything within our authority and our ability to ensure the protection of this wildlife," he said. "It's the property owner's responsibility to comply with all applicable laws, regulations and specific agencies required to complete any proposal for work on their property in any given or unique circumstance."
Code compliance manager Volker Reiss did not return a call to discuss the property owner's options with an eagle nest on site.
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.