Texas state game wardens are concerned that some ultralight airplanes have been flying too close to a nest of bald eagles in a pecan tree along the Llano River, about eight miles east of Llano.
Mike Cox, a spokesman with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), says wardens think photographers on the planes are trying to get close-up pictures of the two bald eagles and the eaglet that live in the nest. But planes buzzing that close to the nest could do serious harm to the birds.
"The problem is that can disturb the birds and even possibly cause the eaglet to prematurely struggle out of the nest and fall down and die," Cox tells KUT News.
He adds that he doesn't think the close encounters are being done maliciously, but that TPWD guidelines call for no aircraft operation within 1000 feet horizontally or vertically of an eagle's nest. There's also a state law that makes disturbing the nest of a non-game bird a Class "C" misdemeanor. Officials are encouraging voluntary compliance, but they also hope someone will call the Llano County Sheriff or TPWD's "Operation Game Thief" hotline if they see a violation.
The bald eagle is one of the few animals ever de-listed from the federal Endangered Species Act. But TPWD says the bald eagle remains a threatened species and is still protected under the The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.