Warning! Stay away from eagles in LaVern Johnson Park, it’s the LAW
Eagles are nesting
Lyons resident Golden Eagles in LaVern M Johnson Park begin their nest building typically one to three months before egg-laying. This year, nearby homeowners say that it is the biggest nest they have seen them build. A Golden Eagle pair builds a nest primarily of sticks and vegetation, and they average four to five feet wide. Resident birds reuse the same nest for multiple seasons.
Researchers, biologists and volunteers are coming together to do a 4-year comprehensive bald eagle monitoring project. Transmitters are being attached.
There are laws which prohibit people harassing or simply bothering eagles in their nesting season. Eagles in Rocky Mt National Park: Temporary Closures In Lumpy Ridge And Loch Vale Areas began February 15 to Protect Nesting Raptors In the Park, through July 31, 2022. The Park does it mainly to stop people from climbing the nearby cliffs.
“In regard to the eagles nesting in LaVern Johnson Park,” said Lyons Parks Director Dave Cosgrove. “they are protected and should someone see an issue, they should contact either the Boulder County Sheriff or Colorado Parks and Wildlife. We have signage specific to the eagles that was provided by CPW that we will soon put in the Park.”
CPW guidance states:
GOLDEN EAGLE Nest Site: No surface occupancy (beyond that which historically occurred in the area) within ¼ mile (1320 feet, 400 meters) radius of active nests. No permitted, authorized, or human encroachment activities within ½ mile (2640 feet, 800 meters) radius of active nests from December 15 through July 15. (info provided by Town of Lyons).
As far as drones, Parks director Cosgrove said that the Town proposed a drone ordinance a year or two ago and the Town Board was advised by the Town attorney that there were some issues surrounding local regulation of UAS drones. After a complicated, detailed presentation, the Board did not proceed in making local laws.
You can only request Bald and Golden Eagle feathers from the National Eagle Repository, located in Colorado. It is a separate process to request eagle feathers, which also includes completing an application. You cannot receive eagle feathers from the non-eagle feather repositories.
Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, passed in 1940, prohibits “pursuing, shooting, shooting at, poisoning, wounding, killing capturing, trapping, collecting, molesting, or disturbing” a bald or golden eagle. It’s is also illegal to “possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, offer to purchase or barter, transport … any bald eagle… alive, dead, or any part, nest or egg thereof.”
This means you can’t take or even touch/move any part of a bald eagle, not even a feather already on the ground. A single violation could result in up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
A local Lyons dog walker told the Recorder a long story about how he wanted to take a dead bird home and get it stuffed, and the numerous channels he had to go through to have it done, all the while getting, literally, yelled at for touching the dead bird.
Migratory Bird Treaty Act
In addition to bald and golden eagles, you could even get in trouble for picking up a migratory bird’s feather. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 also makes is illegal to kill, sell, buy, or possess any part of an alive or dead migratory bird. (A few “common” birds, like starlings and pigeons are not covered.)
Exception: Native Americans
The law makes an exception that allows members of federally-recognized tribes to own eagle feathers. They can be used for religious and culturally significant events. Eligible Native Americans must first get a permit to own and receive eagle feathers. The law allows Native Americans to wear, use, inherit, or even give feathers to other Native Americans. However, they cannot give the feathers to non-Native Americans.
So, don’t pick up that feather!
Bald Eagle book
If you love learning about the bald eagle, a new book called “The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird” by Jack E. Davis will be perfect for you. This Pulitzer Prize winning natural historian brings you every fact imaginable in a light optimistic way.