Last night, before the regular InfoAge meeting, we met with a zoologist from the NJ Fish & Wildlife Commission, about the bald eagles that nest at InfoAge.
When you're standing in InfoAge's parking lot, you can see both cottages. The tree containing their nest is to the left of the left cottage (got that?)
It is VITAL that everyone who visits InfoAge follow certain rules, lest you break federal and state law and/or create legal hassles for InfoAge.
Here are some things the zoologist told us. NOTE -- these items are not open for debate.
- bald eagles are still on the NJ endangered species list, despite being removed from the federal list
- it is a federal crime to disturb the eagles or their nest, except when the birds' safety or human safety is at risk, and the experts err on the strict side of "disturb"
- ordinary activity such as driving past, parking, and walking to our buildings is fine; after all, the eagles clearly found our environment suitable! what we can NOT do is loiter and go anywhere near that tree, nor create any unusual sounds near it, etc.
- the cottage on the right (where some of occasionally stay over) is business-as-usual; the cottage on the left is OFF-LIMITS except for official InfoAge business such as urgent repairs
- every day there are bird watchers in the InfoAge parking lot; some are casual observers, others are volunteers whose responsibility is to keep tabs and report back to the state not just on the eagles but on * US * (us = all whom participate in InfoAge); these people sometimes announce themselves and other times are stealthy; but don't be fooled - they WILL put the birds' rights ahead of ours if we do not take these rules seriously
- zoologist said the normal policy is to keep eagle nest locations under wraps, but in InfoAge's case they are doing the opposite because the word is out among bird watchers anyhow - so the township is working with InfoAge to create some kind of official viewing station
- some people will continue to sit in their cars and watch - we can't stop them because InfoAge is on public land - and as the zoologist pointed out, if not for our parking lot, people would park on the street which is as dangerous to people as to the birds
- the row of parking spaces closest to the street is roped off; keep out
- I said this part before but it's worth repeating - don't even think of going near the left cottage - and do not stand around and point at the eagles - from the birds' perspective you are an enemy
- there is literature in the InfoAge guard house - if anyone happens to see bird watchers in our vicinity, or especially if you see passers-by drive or bike or walk or loiter onto the cottage grounds (except for people who are just cruising past without stopping), then don't be passive!!! First and best move is to alert Fred or Steve and let them deal with it - but if they're not around then POLITELY Inform people that they must move on; give them the literature; and if they argue then do NOT create a scene; instead call the cops and/or call the zoologist (numbers will be posted)
- why? Because we're all responsible for helping, lest InfoAge get blamed for someone else's behavior - if we approach anyone and have an argument then we're the ones who are suddenly "disturbing" the eagles - also, all BS aside, some people (especially bird watchers) are all too willing to report our every move
- like it or not, InfoAge and all citizens must follow the federal and state laws, so any personal opinions of wildlife or politics are irrelevant
- Fred points out that as harsh as some of these items might sound, the state is actually being NICE to us, because technically they're supposed to give the eagles a 1,000-feet undisturbed radius - that would kill InfoAge as we know it - instead the zoologists (and bureaucratologists!) recognize that the eagles chose us, not the other way around
- for big events like VCF, what we'll do is ask the little league next door if we can share their parking lot, as ours is now reduced by one aisle - if they say 'no' (which we don't expect) then we'll have people park in safe places inside our campus or perhaps by the satellite dish
- most of these rules (such as the parking issue) are slightly loosened after july, when the baby eagles grow sturdier
- common sense: these animals are natural predators with seven-foot wingspans ... don't mess with them