Organized by the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, attendees wore paper eagle masks as local biologist David Hancock gave a presentation then led a tour to the nest.
The cottonwood, which is approximately 60 years old, had to be removed by city contractors after someone partially cut through the tree this summer.
“Enough is enough,” Hancock said to the crowd, adding that he’s watched more than 50 eagle trees cut down in the last number of years.
“There is a law, it is the British Columbia Wildlife Act. And it says that these trees, and eagles, are supposed to be protected 12 months a year. Here is a prime example of somebody who just totally, and absolutely disregarded that purely, we believe, for profit,” Hancock told the gathering.
He said he wants to place a pole and build a nest framework on top of the pole in the area, adding that an artificial nest he built in Richmond raised two young eagles this year.
Hancock said he was told by the city that he could build a pole and nest near the Croydon Drive site, but that’s been stalled.
“Since then, it’s been ‘well maybe we better hold off for a moment we haven’t worked it out with the developer,’” Hancock said. “Well… the point is, is that the developer needs to work it out with the citizens. We are not in favour with what has happened.”
Hancock Wildlife Foundation board member Mike Seear told the group that it’s “absolutely outrageous” that someone cut down the nest.
“Apart from the vandalism of this nest, which goes without saying. There is something to say about the broader picture. Not just this eagles nest, but what is the value of greenspace in our urban development. Anyone who sees an eagle is going to talk about it for the rest of the day. Seeing wildlife adds to our lives,” Seear said.
He said municipal planning should include green-space and wildlife.
“It’s absolutely astonishing that someone, some bonehead with a chainsaw can cut down an active eagle nest,” Seear said.
An application – submitted by Joe Dhaliwal, according to City of Surrey online documents – to build a mixed retail and office commercial centre on the property received third reading in October 2012. Surrey’s acting manager of the city’s building division Rémi Dubé told PAN last month that it has “been kind of on a holding pattern since July 2017.”
He noted the applicant’s environmental consultant is looking at “opportunities” for the property.
Dhaliwal did not respond to PAN’s request for comment made last month.
Conservation officer Alicia Stark told PAN last month the minimum fine that could be imposed under the Wildlife Act is $575. Alternatively, it could “go straight to court,” which could lead to a much harsher penalty.
Stark said investigation into who is responsible for the damage remains active, but is complicated by a lack of witnesses.