Cape councilors uphold rules that restrict development near SWFL eagle nests

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bald eagle nest
Bald eagle in a tree. CREDIT: WINK News

Tough bald eagle protections in Cape Coral will continue after city councilors voted Monday to keep rules in place that restrict how close you can build to a nest.

One council member voted to allow development closer to nests, while the rest voted no.

Thanks to that vote, restrictions for building around eagle nests will remain at a distance of 1,100 feet. Cape Coral is still the only Florida city to have this large of a restriction, and city officials believe the wildlife is what makes the city so unique.

“When you talk about the nest, and the 1,100 feet…to me it’s not just the nest, it’s their hunting ground. In other words to protect the area around that nest,” said mayor Joe Coviello.

The city has been debating the rule change since April to change the distance to 660 feet, which is the state and federal requirement.

Presentations brought to the council meeting showed that Cape Coral has more nests than other Florida cities that regulate the 660 feet restriction.

“We have an abundance of nests over the other cities that do not have this restriction. If we make a mistake, we will not be able to go back,” said council member John Carioscia.

Some worried that the restrictions would hinder development in the city, but supporters say that’s not the case.

“This existing ordinance doesn’t prevent the development, it just controls it and it times it,” said Carl Veaux, president of Cape coral Friends of Wildlife.

And many believe it’s the wildlife that keeps people coming to Cape Coral, so protecting it is a must.

“Why do people come here? For nature, for water, we’ve got 400 miles of canals, we have eagles, we have manatees, we have panthers…everything you can think of, owls, tortoises…why screw with it?” said Cape Coral resident Jay Lagace.

Eagle supporters say the next issue to focus on is the water quality in SWFL. Without clean water and taking into account the rise in fish kills, both could affect the bald eagle population moving forward.

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