PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh’s abuzz about the pair of bald eagles and their three eggs, which are just about ready to hatch.
But the State Game Commission is now guarding the eagles’ nest – like a hawk.
In fact, they’re throwing the book at anyone who comes closer than a few hundred yards.
They’ve captivated the public’s imagination, but the game commission has a warning: if you want to see these regal birds up close, the webcam is your best bet.
Or you might end up in the courtroom of District Justice James J. Hanley, like Hunter Thomas Kesten, cited for coming within 100 yards of the nest.
“Guilty with a minimal fine,” Kesten, of Clarion County, said. “And they’re probably going to post a few more signs, so other people don’t wander up there like I did.”
The game commission said Kesten ignored signs such as one marking a 220-yard buffer area around the nest. Keston says he never saw them, but Judge Hanley fined him $75, including court costs.
“Still, in all, he can’t walk out without something,” Hanley said. “He should have known had to know it was the wrong place to be. He admittedly saw the eagles. He should have known at this at the time, he should have turned around and got out of that area.”
“The game commission takes the security of the nest very seriously,” said Gary Fujak with the game commission. “Whenever we come across these people and find these people there, they will be cited on the spot or charges will be filed against them.”
The game commission routinely patrols the area and even when they’re not there, a closed circuit security camera monitors the site. Fujak says violators will be prosecuted to the fullest.
“It’s what we need to do to protect the resource,” he said. “The eagle nest is a part of Pittsburgh wildlife now and we need to do everything we can to protect it.”
Judge Hanley says it’s important to send a message to anyone who might wander in there.
“Very important because it is something new to the area,” he added. “I’ve seen people walk over the railroad tracks on Carson Street — they’re trying to get up to that area, and that scares me very much. So there’s a buffered area there, and people have to know where the area is and adhere to that.”
A fine of $75 is a wrist slap really, but it does get the message across. The message is that the game commission will do all in its power to protect the eagles and their eaglets to come.