Reporting Derrick Blakley
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Police Department’s plans to build a shooting range in a wetlands area on the Far Southeast side may have run into an insurmountable obstacle: a majestic flying object.
Bald eagles have been discovered nesting at the proposed site along the Calumet River. As CBS 2′s Derrick Blakley reports, wildlife enthusiasts are hoping the eagles can halt the project.
Bird watcher Carolyn Marsh first spotted the eagles last week, not far from where the police want to build a shooting range.
She and Thomas Shepherd predict the birds would leave if police follow through with their plans.
“Nesting birds that lay eggs and raise their young here would be scared off,” Shepherd, of the Southeast Environmental Task Force, says.
The gun range would carve 33 acres out of the serene site, which is already populated by waterfowl and other birds of prey. They aren’t protected by federal law — bald eagles are.
Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy on Thursday said he’s sensitive to wildlife concerns and that his department is doing research.
“We want to be environmentally friendly, and obviously to bald eagles. It’s very important to the United States as our national bird,” he said.
That’s encouraging, environmentalists say, but not definitive.
“It’s just not a good place for a gun range to be,” Shepherd says.
Experts say the city will at least have to seek a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before it can go ahead with construction.
Representatives from the agency have already visited the site.
Bald eagles are no longer on the endangered species list, but they still receive protection under other federal laws.