February 6, 2007
NB Telegraph Journal

Not guilty pleas entered in blue heron nest investigation

Canadian Press with Telegraph-Journal

J.D. Irving, Limited and foreman Hiltz of Sussex intend to fight charges under Canada's Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Lawyers entered pleas of not guilty in Burton provincial court Monday to the charge arising from the alleged destruction of great blue heron nests last summer on land the company owns near Cambridge Narrows.

Environment Canada investigated the complaint that the company cut a logging road through a blue heron nesting site near Sawmill Brook, disturbing and destroying the nests, between mid-July and mid-August.

The judge set June 5 for a pretrial hearing, and two weeks for the trial itself, from Oct. 9 to Oct. 19.

The company said in a written statement that it looks forward "to presenting further information as well as clarifying some of the inaccurate statements and speculation by people not directly involved in the case" at the trial.

"J.D. Irving, Limited has entered a 'not guilty' plea because we believe we exercised care and diligence in our efforts to identify and protect the great blue heron habitat located in the Cambridge Narrows area," the statement reads.

"These efforts are consistent with five other colonies we are protecting as well as several thousands of acres where the protection of bird habitat - for eagles, osprey, piping plover and other species - occurs."

Great blue herons are protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. Violating the act carries severe penalties, including fines of up to $1 million, three years in prison or both.

The company says in its statement that it employs approximately 240 foresters and woodsworkers in the Sussex district.

"They care about the environment and are actively involved in habitat protection and conservation in their everyday work.

"The successful protection of five great blue heron colonies - including one that is only several miles from Cambridge Narrows, and the protection of several thousands of acres as raptor (eagle, osprey, goshawk) and endangered piping plover habitat are examples."

The company says it decommissioned the road, placed boulders to close it, and banned cutting wood from that block of land for at least a year.

The company also established a permanent 400-metre buffer around the nesting area.

The company stated last year that it would co-operate with the investigation.

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