New federal restrictions in place to protect eagle's nest in Manassas

New federal restrictions in place to protect eagle's nest in Manassas (ABC7)

ABC7 News got the first peak at two eaglets just born in an eagle's nest in Manassas on Tuesday -- where controversy continues to fly.

The babies parents, Tatonka and Ina, are working hard to keep them alive.

The other major development? U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit to the developer of the two office buildings that are within feet of the nest that will help protect the eagles.

Eagle Advocate Amber Taylor filed a lawsuit against U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year claiming the federal agency made the wrong decision when it did not issue a permit filled with restrictions to protect the eagles during construction of the two buildings.

“This is at least something on paper for these eagles that can be enforced by laws," Taylor, who is a former animal welfare investigator said.

The permit includes a ban on parking within 25 feet of the nest and educating tenants of the office buildings on how not to disturb the nest. A third independent party also must monitor the nest and report back to the federal government for the next three years.

"We just want to make sure that in the future especially when a permit has been issued that someone will actually enforce the permit itself because without it this permit is a useless piece of paper," said Taylor.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services issued the following statement:

"In response to an application from Gateway Business Park LLC, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an incidental eagle take permit to address potential disturbance of the Cannon Branch Park nest from ongoing and future operation of Gateway Business Park. While the bald eagle pair at this site continues to nest as in previous years, it is possible that the eagles may be disturbed once the Gateway Business Park facilities become fully occupied and functional. The avoidance and minimization measures required by the permit will help reduce the possibility of disturbance, and the permit establishes monitoring requirements to help inform future management efforts.

Bald eagles remain one of the greatest endangered species success stories in the U.S. The Service estimates the bald eagle population in the lower 48 states has grown to more than 70,000 birds (compared to historic low of around 417 nesting pairs throughout the lower 48 states in 1963). After its delisting in 2007, the Service has continued to manage the bald eagle in accordance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. These efforts, along with the work of a wide range of conservation partners, have helped the nesting bald eagle population in Virginia to approximately double since that time.

The issuance of this permit is consistent with the Service's commitment to protecting the bald eagle and maintaining stable or increasing populations, both at a local and regional scale."

In April, Taylor and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be back in court. The federal government has filed a motion to dismiss Taylor’s lawsuit. She tells ABC7 News that right now she does not have any plans to drop her lawsuit.

Tatonka and Ina have been very successful in this nest. Over the past five years, the two have given birth to nine eaglets.

ABC 7 News reached the developer of the property who has no comment at this time.

Read the permit in full below:

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