By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer
FISHERVILLE – Wind turbine opponents in Haldimand are expressing outrage after a tree with a bald eagle’s nest was removed near Fisherville Saturday morning. The tree was cut down to make way for an access road for the Summerhaven wind turbine project. The Ministry of Natural Resources gave permission for the removal Dec. 31.
Until recently, the bald eagle was deemed a species-at-risk. It has since been upgraded to “a species of special concern” due to the growing number of nesting pairs along the north shore of Lake Erie. The nest destroyed on the weekend was one of 57 identified in southern Ontario in 2011.
“I was there and I witnessed it,” Ernie King of Cayuga, vice president of Haldimand Wind Concerns, said Monday. “The MNR is supposed to be protecting nature and enforcing the regulations that are in place. Are we trying to put the eagle back on the endangered list? We can’t be playing God with nature.”
Wind opponents and others are upset with the process leading to the tree’s removal. The permit was issued Dec. 31 with the proviso that the tree would be removed by Sunday. The MNR decision wasn’t posted on the Internet until after 5 p.m. Friday. This left no time for anyone to object.
The Summerhaven project is an undertaking of NextEra Energy Canada. Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal green-lighted the project last fall following a month-long hearing in Hagersville. At issue was the project’s potential impact on the environment in west Haldimand. Officials told King and others at the scene that removing the cottonwood tree at this time of year was the least disruptive option. There were concerns that the three wind turbines slated for the area posed a threat to the breeding pair and their young.
Spectators watching from the road were told the displaced eagles were not in the neighbourhood. However, the homeless pair were spotted in the area on the weekend, as were 16 bald eagles in total during the annual January bird count held in the Fisherville-area.
An on-line petition about the incident has been posted at the Ontario Wind Resistance website. As of Monday morning, it has received 240 responses. The petition, which is directed at the MNR and natural resource critics in the New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative Party, says “I, as a resident of Ontario, am outraged at the destruction and ultimate displacement of the eagles and their habitat. Read article