Each time, the nest has been removed, and an officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Division has fired a paint ball gun near the eagle at least seven times since December in hopes of scaring him away. Still, the eagle remains.This is not unexpected, according to Scott Barras, state director for the wildlife division. The airport probably will pay the agency about $13,100 through the spring to disperse eagles from the garden.
Now that nesting season is well under way, Dad eagle has become more persistent in his efforts to build a new home, but no matter how hard he tries, he will not be allowed to nest anywhere at the garden.That might mean a missed breeding opportunity for the eagle, who is known as "Dad Norfolk" to his fans and who appears to have a new partner. His previous mate died in an airplane strike in 2011. The city's controversial decision to remove the nest and the ensuing suspense over whether the eagle will successfully relocate has captivated an audience that once followed the eagles through the garden's webcam.
One group of eagle supporters, called Eagle on Alliance, has gone further. The alliance, which recently held a silent protest walk at the garden, said it believes the current strategy isn't working and that the focus should be on steering eagles away from the airport, not the garden, said coordinator Carol Senechal.
The group worries about the pair's chances of producing offspring this season and fears the female might resort to laying an egg on the ground, Senechal said. That's not the USDA's chief concern, Barras said. He noted that bald eagles are no longer on the state's list of threatened and endangered species and said that one unproductive year for the garden's eagles will not hurt Virginia's eagle population.
"We wish that they would choose to nest elsewhere right away, but we're certainly prepared to continue with the management program," Barras said.