French Creek residents upset eagle tree slated to be cut down

WatchA report, that deems eagle tree a danger, is being questioned by French Creek residents. Kendall Hanson reports.

There are concerns about a tree near the mouth of French Creek that has eagles living it.

The Douglas Fir is designated as an eagle tree, but concerned residents have learned the property owner has applied to remove the tree as a hazard.

An Eaglet was born in the tree this spring and recently left the nest, but people who watched the young bird grow-up are worried about if the nest will be home to another baby eagle.

Last week numerous vehicles began parking directly under the tree.

“As a wildlife protection tree it’s protected from disturbance so having all those vehicles arrive, come and go and people and noise is definitely a disturbance to an active eagle nest,” said Denise Foster, of Save French Creek Estuary Lands.

When they notified provincial officials about what they saw they discovered the property owner had applied to remove the tree. They say removing the tree was based on an arborist determining the tree is a hazard and a biologist determining the nest is inactive.

“That gives us reason to question the arborist report,” said Foster.

“So we would like to see the arborist report and the biologist report to view communication through a freedom of information request so that’s underway in the hope that we can have the province revisit the information in regards to this nest.”

But B.C.’s Ministry of Forests agrees that the tree should come down saying, in a statement, “in this case, the arborist determined this particular tree presented a risk of falling and, as a result, is considered a danger.”

The statement goes on to say “it was not until after the permit to cut was issued that the nest became occupied by a breeding pair of eagles. The ministry worked with the applicant to delay the tree removal until between September 1 – January 1.”

The group watching the tree says they observed the breeding pair in the nest in December 2018.

The tree sits on a 3.2-hectare property, owned by French Creek House. A Vancouver developer wants to rezone the property for future housing and 350,000 square feet of commercial space.

“Somehow we need to find a balance between housing and development and the protection of our wildlife. It’s important to people who live on Vancouver Island. It’s part of why we enjoy living here,” said Foster.

Today there were no vehicles parked near the eagle tree.

The developer did not return our calls before deadline.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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