Helicopters to determine which eagle nests are active near new Northern Regional Prison site
By Patrick Gee
23 October 2020
A helicopter has been used to assess whether a wedge-tailed eagle nest on a property bordering the government's Northern Regional Prison site is actively used.
Environmentalists and those opposing the 275 bed development at the informal Crown reserve at Brushy Rivulet have touted the presence of the nest as a key indicator of the conservation value of the area when arguing for drilling work to cease and the development to be moved.
A Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment spokesman said the Forest Practices Authority carried out nest checks in Northern Tasmania, including in the Westbury area, on behalf of the forestry industry on Tuesday.
The findings have not yet been revealed but a resident reported seeing an eagle circling above the helicopter.
"This annual process involves the use of a helicopter to allow visual inspection of known eagle nests," the spokesman said.
"The purpose is to establish if eagles are using the nest in the current season to lay eggs and raise chicks.
"The checks are undertaken by eagle experts in accordance with agreed protocols with DPIPWE that have been designed to minimise any risk to eagles and eagle breeding."
The spokesman said nest checks provide valuable information used to plan for the conservation of eagle species and was not initiated as part of the Northern Regional Prison project.
Drilling works for geotechnical core testing at the Northern Regional Prison site will occur periodically over the coming weeks.
The government has said the works will be done outside a 500m no disturbance zone around the nest and not within a 1km line of site from it, as per Forest Practices guidelines.
Owner and director of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Greg Irons, said the guidelines are not best practice and if the checks reveal chicks or eggs are present in the nest at the edge of the 70ha site, drilling should cease until the end of the breeding season.
"Eagles use the same nests for generations," he said.
"If eagle's have successfully bred there then there's a good reason for that.
"That means it's of good conservation value generally, and should be left alone."
Mr Irons said there were also Tasmanian devils at the site.
"If you want a site that definitely doesn't have any of these animals being affected, use a paddock."