Imagine waking up one morning and spotting a huge bald eagle nest on one of your trees within your property. It’s extremely important that you don’t disturb the nest. There are things you can do, providing you follow the bald eagle nest restrictions as laid out by the government.
Here’s the short answer first about what will happen when bald eagles build nests on your property, land, or yard. Don’t’ just stop there though, keep reading to ensure you don’t break the law.
What happens if a bald eagle builds a nest on your property? When a bald eagle builds a nest on your land you should contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service as soon as possible. Federal law prohibits individuals from taking down bald eagle nests sitting on their property.
There are heavy punishments for people who destroy a bald eagle’s nest, even if the bird has built on a nest on your land.
Stay with me as I get into the details of what steps you should take when you realize there’s a bald eagle’s nest on your property. What will happen if you decide to remove the nest on your own?
I’ve also included detail on what to do if you are starting building. For example, how close you can build to a bald eagle’s nest.
You’ll find the answer to these and more here.
Here’s what to do when a bald eagle nests on your property
Bald eagles enjoy nest building. Their ideal nesting site is the highest spot of a tall tree. So, if there are tall trees within your property, a bald eagle can choose to make your residence its home.
It might be quite annoying for you as a property owner because this unexpected visitor has invaded your space. And worse is, they don’t build simple nests like those made by the small birds. A bald eagle knows how to make itself cozy by building a big nest.
And how big is big?
On average, a bald eagle will build a nest that’s four to six feet wide and three feet deep! That’s a large nest on your personal property. Your first thought may be to get rid of the nest. I mean, it’s them on your space, right? Well, here’s some bad news.
You can’t take down a bald eagle’s nest without involving the authorities. If a bald eagle constructs its nest on your property, get in touch with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in your respective State. You will also find details on that link regarding The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
This is the law protecting bald eagles’ nests. Everything about a bald eagle, including its nest and nest location, is under federal protection.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are federal laws protecting bald eagles and their nests. As per these two laws, it is illegal for individuals to destroy a bald eagle’s nest without a disturbance permit.
Simply put, any form of disturbance to the bald eagle’s nest (without a federal permit) is a punishable offense. Things get even worse if you kill the eagle, even by accident.
Bald eagle nest restrictions
The law uses “disturbance” as an umbrella term describing the following illegal human actions towards a bald eagle’s nest:
- Injuring the bald eagle on its nest.
- Interfering with usual breeding activities on the nest.
- Interfering with the bald eagle’s sheltering habits.
- Causing a bald eagle to abandon its nest.
With that in mind, here’s what you shouldn’t do when you realize a bald eagle has built its nest on your property by following these bald eagle nest restricions:
- Don’t shoot at the bald eagle’s nest to scare it away.
- Don’t shoot to kill the bald eagle (to get rid of it completely).
- Don’t try poisoning the bald eagle in its nest.
- Don’t move or throw away the nest when the bald eagle is away.
- Don’t get rid of the eggs or nestlings in the nest when the bald eagle is away.
- Don’t try felling the tree to make the bald eagle abandon the nest.
Keep in mind that disturbing or destroying the bald eagle’s nest doesn’t just mean when the bald eagle is inside the nest. It’s also illegal to disturb the nest when the bald eagle is away. Destroying the bald eagle’s nest leads to the loss of the bald eagle’s eggs or young ones.
These federal prohibitions are in place to conserve the populations of bald eagles. Disturbance to their nests threatens the survival of these birds and their offspring.
Before taking down a bald eagle’s nest from your property, ensure you have a disturbance permit issued by the U. S Fish and Wildlife Service. A federal court will investigate and persecute you for destroying a bald eagle’s nest on your property without approval from the federal authorities.
Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act:
- You’ll face civil penalties amounting to $5,000 or one-year imprisonment for taking down a bald eagle’s nest. You can even face both charges (penalties and imprisonments) depending on the severity of your actions.
- If convicted for the second time, you’ll pay $10,000 in fine or serve a maximum of two years prison time.
The unlawful harming of a bald eagle’s nest on your property is also punishable under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
- You risk being fined $5,000 or serve six months in prison. If you repeat the offense, imprisonment is two years and a $250,000 fine.
We can agree that the punishment is harsh. So, you’d rather follow what the law says than stand to lose your freedom or reputation for getting rid of an active bald eagle’s nest on your space.
Before taking down the nest, ensure you have a disturbance permit issued by the U. S Fish and Wildlife Service.
But remember, this permit is only given if the action will support the preservation of the bald eagle. To mean, having access to this permit doesn’t mean that you’re free to shoot the bald eagle and its nest.
In this case, the permit is issued to relocate the bald eagle’s nest from your property to another suitable site. A qualified agent from the USFWS must carry out the entire nest relocation process.
Therefore, you’ll be required to grant the relevant authorities unrestricted access to your property where the nest removal operation will take place.
Once the relocation process is complete, you’re expected to watch your property and report to the authorities should you notice another bald eagle attempting to build a nest on your property.
The issued permit has specific terms which you must comply with. If another bald eagle tries to re-nest on your property, this permit can allow you to harass the bald eagle to keep them completely away from your vicinity.
Take note: the USFWS will provide the terms of harassment that you must follow.
So now you know what happens if a bald eagle makes a nest on your property, here’s what else I really think you should know before taking any action.
How close can you build to a bald eagle nest?
The US Fish and Wildlife service say you can only build at least 200 meters close to a bald eagle nest. That equates to making sure that any new building work is at least 660 feet away from the nest. Here’s a direct quote:
Maintain a buffer of at least 660 feet (200 meters) between project activities and the nest (including active and alternate nests). If a similar activity is closer than 660 feet, then maintain a distance buffer as close to the nest as the existing tolerated activity. If the activity is closer than 660 feet due to an existing similar activity then restrict all clearing, external construction and landscaping activities within 660 feet of the nest to outside the nesting season, which is August through January.
To conclude, yes, you can you build near a bald eagle nest providing you keep 200 meters away from it.
Can you remove a bald eagle’s nest?
No, you can’t. A bald eagle’s nest is federal property. To remove the nest, you must have a federal permit. To be clear, you cannot cut down a tree with an eagles nest. It’s illegal without permission.
What is the penalty for disturbing a bald eagle’s nest?
As stated earlier, the penalties vary depending on the specific federal law you’ve violated.
As per the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, you’ll face civil penalties amounting to $5,000 or one-year imprisonment for any disturbance to a bald eagle’s nest. You can even face both charges. If convicted for the second time, you’ll pay $10,000 in fine or serve a maximum of two years prison time.
If you’re found guilty of a bald eagle’s nest disturbance for the second time, you risk two-year prison time or a fine amounting to $250,000. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll do both prison time and pay a fine.
Under the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act, you pay a fine of $5,000 or serve six months in prison. If your disturbance actions are a repeat offense, you’ll face two-years imprisonment and a fine ($250,000).
Can you cut down a tree with an eagle’s nest?
No, you can’t cut down a tree with an eagle’s nest in it. You’ll have committed a serious crime if you interfere with an eagle’s habitat.
How do you get rid of eagle nests?
You can’t get rid of an eagle’s nest. That’s an illegal act. Only US Fish and Wildlife Service agents can get rid of these nests.
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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/bird-eagle-nest-tree-wild-nature-6655927/