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Lawsuit filed over bald eagle nest on Lake Ontario | News

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Lawsuit filed over bald eagle nest on Lake Ontario
Lawsuit filed over bald eagle nest on Lake Ontario

A well-known local restaurant family is suing the state of New York over a pair of bald eagles on their property near Irondequoit Bay.

The Daniele family is joining another property owner there claiming the state is preventing them from developing their land.

The bald eagle, while it's no longer listed on the federal endangered species list, is still considered a threatened species in New York State. The Irondequoit Bay bald eagles are one of only three nesting pairs all along the Lake Ontario shoreline in New York.

We first reported in October of 2007 that a pair of the majestic American bald eagles had taken up residence at the southeastern end of Irondequoit Bay.

The Daniele family owns Bazil Restaurant and nearby Southpoint Marina. They paid almost $1.5-million for the 16-acre parcel off Empire Boulevard in 2003. Then the eagles moved in.

Danny Daniele said. “Our intent is not to harm or move or displace the eagle in any way. We've actually been in negotiations with the town in the past six months or so to actually looking at ways that we can donate that parcel to the town or to the state.”

The Daniele's want to harvest about 300 of about 1,500 mostly oak trees around the eagles' nest. Daniele says they submitted several applications for different projects on the land, but stopped short of applying for a permit to remove the trees. “When someone unofficially says 'you can hand it in, but it's not going anywhere' that's when it kind of pushes you back a bit.”

Daniele says they pay $18,000 a year in taxes on that parcel. Houses and condos are planned on other parts of the site. But the Danieles’ say a 350 foot buffer required by D.E.C. is a roadblock. So they want to be compensated. “The logging that was discussed was a very small logging project that wasn't going to affect the eagles in any way. It wasn't going to be done while the eagle was there.”

D.E.C. says disturbing the eagles' habitat cold prevent the birds from laying eggs, or cause them to move away, and that's not a good thing. Wildlife Biologist Mike Wasilco said, “The issue is not so much the logging activity itself as it is the changing of the habitat surrounding the nest. The removal of some of the buffer that's provided by the tree canopy that surrounds the next.”   

D.E.C. says eagles nest and lay their eggs from mid-January to mid-March. Just in D.E.C.'s Region Eight -- which is our 11-county area -- they found four new nests last year. There's about 20 nests total in Region Eight and only about 200 in the entire state.

What’s next?
The Danieles hope this moves the state to act. What they'd like to do is develop their property and donate the land the eagles' nest is on to the state or the town of Penfield. D.E.C. says the permit would have had a chance if the Danieles agreed to make what's called a net conservation benefit as part of their plan -- if the eagles failed to reproduce.

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