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GASC, city staffers resolve dispute over bald eagles

By Staff | Dec 30, 2008

Good will toward men — and bald eagles — appears to have triumphed over the holidays as a quarrel between Cape Coral city staffers and the German American Social Club over bald eagle protections has been resolved.
Assistant City Manager Carl Schwing sent a letter to GASC President Gerhard Veith in November advising him that violations of state and federal regulations regarding activities near the bald eagle could result in a maximum $200,000 fine, up to a year in jail or both.
Veith maintained events held on the GASC’s property at 2101 S.W. Pine Island Road do not disturb the nearby bald eagles.
Both parties, however, came away from a meeting last week satisfied that the issued was resolved. Schwing told Veith as long as the GASC complies with state and federal guidelines, it is in the clear.
“As long as (the GASC) have consulted with state and federal authorities, which they have several times, they’re fine,” Schwing said during a phone interview.
“(Schwing) basically said that since we are respecting the federal requirements of a 400-foot buffer it’s OK,” Veith said.
Bald eagles were taken off of the endangered species list in June 2007, but are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
The birds’ nesting period stretches from October to April. Nesting eagles are sensitive to loud noises, and city officials feared the large events hosted by the GASC during the nesting period could put the club in jeopardy.
Two eagles have nested near the GASC’s property since the fall of 2004. The club has received a special exemption to host its annual Oktoberfest celebration since that time, but the club is also looking to hold more events during the nesting period.
“They stated they’re attempting to use their property more throughout the year,” Schwing said.
Schwing also advised Veith that he was not in violation of city ordinances banning construction and development within 1,100 feet of a bald eagle’s nest.
About seven eagles have been hatched successfully from the nest since 2004, according to Veith.
“They are used to what we are doing. The eagles are quite happy there,” he said.