UBC Properties Trust placed a controversial cone over an active eagle’s nest in Wesbrook Village Wednesday morning as part of its development of a new residence in the area.
A group of workers and environmental consultants from Diamond Head Consulting placed the cone on an eagle nest alongside Ross Drive as a small group of community members watched from across the street.
No eagles were in the nest as they are away for their annual migration north for salmon feasting.
The nest has been active since at least 2014, Cassandra Cummings, a biologist working for Diamond Head who was present at today’s coning, told The Ubyssey.
Plans to cone the nest have faced widespread community backlash from Wesbrook residents and environmental groups. A petition to stop the coning has over 18,000 signatures as of publishing.
“I just feel like as a person, it would be so tragic to go away and come home and your home is not there anymore. I can only imagine for an eagle…,” said Ryan Jaco, a former Wesbrook resident who is part of the group leading the opposition to the coning.
UBC Properties Trust received a permit from the Ministry of Forests to put the cone in place while development occurs near the nest. During construction the eagles will be redirected nest elsewhere — a man-made nest has been built in a nearby tree — and the cone will be removed once construction is complete.
The Ministry of Forests did not respond to a request for comment before publishing time.
According to Cummings, the cone will be in place for two years, although it could be extended for up to three. She said the cone is intended to encourage the eagles to breed elsewhere while construction is ongoing.
”[The province is] trying to mitigate any impact on the eagles themselves from the upcoming plan construction,” she said, adding that the eagles didn’t breed from 2018 to 2020 while other construction was happening in the area.
Cummings said planning for the coning started in 2020 and was based on a technique developed by David Hancock, founder of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation — which Cummings said has been successful elsewhere in the Lower Mainland.
But, Jaco said community members could not find data on the foundation’s past projects and did not hear back when they requested more information.
Two posts related to nest coning are on the foundation’s website — one written by Hancock and another linking to a 2018 Toronto Star article that both say eagles reallocated to an alternative man-made nest built by him.
The Ubyssey did not hear back from the Hancock Wildlife Foundation for comment before publishing time.
Dr. Giulia Toti, a computer science professor and Wesbrook Village resident said community members felt there had not been enough consultation.
“I think people here just felt really ignored. The decision has been in the making for many years, I only found out I think less than two weeks ago,” she said.
UBC declined to comment further on consultation, referring The Ubyssey to a UBC Properties Trust update on the nest.
Jaco said she was concerned with the lack of public consultation, as well as the potential environmental impact this cone and other construction projects could have.
“I just feel, in 2022, that we should do better because we know better. We know that mitigation strategies just [allow us to] continue our lifestyle. Nature has its own purpose. It doesn't have to be for us.”