It was just before 10 a.m. this past Saturday morning when the work crew arrived with chainsaws and cranes to this quiet rural spot along Lake Erie, an hour south of Hamilton. They had come to remove a tree.
Hamilton. They had come to remove a tree. The tree was in the path of a proposed roadway meant to give a large American wind developer access to develop 56 industrial wind turbines they intend to erect along this unspoiled shoreline. But the tree wasn’t the real target of their tools of destruction.
Spanning two large branches near the top of the tree was a very large and impressive nest measuring a couple metres across and more than a metre deep. Likely perched nearby, a pair of bald eagles could only watch as crewmen dismantled and carted away the nest they had spent the summer and fall piecing together in anticipation of a new brood in the spring.
Horrified spectators snapped photos and shouted profanities at the chains aw-wielding workers. But soon the nest, the tree and the frustrated onlookers were gone.
According to a Ministry of Environment spokesperson, they did this for the good of the eagles.
It was just another day in the brave new world of wind energy in Ontario.
There are only about 50 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the province; most are located on the north shore of Lake Erie. But this particular pair was in the way of progress on this rural patch of Haldimand County.
It was a thorny problem for the Ministry of Environment (a title that grows more creepy, more Orwellian with every passing day). They decided to send a Ministry of Natural Resources researcher to seek the advice of a local biologist with Bird Studies Canada—the chief monitor of the bald eagle nesting program in southern Ontario.
The biologist confirmed the nest was active and belonged to a young mating pair. He advised them to leave the nest alone and to put the turbines elsewhere.
It wasn’t the advice the Ministry of Environment wanted to hear, so they ignored it.
On December 31 the Ministry granted the developer the permit to remove the tree and the nest.
From the permitting document:
“By removing the nest before January 6th it is anticipated they will find another suitable nest location and will avoid disturbing them during their critical nesting period. Timing is critical as the eagles are not currently situated in the nest, however they have been seen perching in the near area. Removing the nest will reduce the risk of eagle mortality at the site.”
Of course the risk of mortality the Ministry of Environment hopes to reduce would be zero if they didn’t build 56 40-storey industrial wind turbines in the eagles’ habitat in the first place. As the expert they consulted recommended.
It is plain the Ministry of Environment is now just making it up as it goes along. It has strayed so far from the principles any rational soul would consider proper stewardship, it has become unrecognizable as a protector of the natural world around us. With every endangered species it puts in harm’s way of another wind energy developer, it becomes easier to forsake the next.
The folks we entrusted to safeguard our environment have become serial destroyers of natural habitat. Once guardians of nature, they have been twisted and prodded by their political masters for so long the Ministry of Environment is now little more than a facilitator for the subsidy-sucking industrial green energy sector.
And for what? An unpredictable stream of intermittent electricity that Ontario’s grid can’t manage? To enrich a large American developer? To drive consumers’ electricity bills ever higher? Or is the destruction of the habitat and welfare of thousands of species across the province merely collateral damage in the wake of the McGuinty government’s ambition to appear green?
As the majestic eagles swirl overhead, searching for their stolen nest, heavy machinery has already begun to tear away at the soil in preparation for the construction of a steel forest of 400-foot industrial wind turbines.
If only we could explain to these creatures— we’re doing this for their own good.
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