FAIR LAWN - The renovation of a Fair Lawn water tower will cost the North Jersey town an extra $20,000 because of some feathered squatters.
Because of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Fair Lawn had to stop repairing and painting the tower after a resident called the state to alert it about a nest of ravens.
Workers won't be allowed to resume their work until the baby ravens are grown enough to fly out of the nest. The mayor says that could take as long as six weeks.
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"Based on the estimates from our engineering department, with the rental of the scaffolding, it's going to cost us an additional $20,000 approximately," says Mayor John Cosgrove.
Ravens are not endangered, but they are a protected species. That means the nest cannot be disturbed while the chicks are still using it.
"What we're doing is just respecting their nesting time," says Don Torino, of the Bergen County Audubon Society. "Once they've nested here, they'll leave the nest."
The mayor says he supports protecting wildlife. But he doesn't think a town should have to foot the bill for a state or federal law.
"It's a state mandate that goes unfunded," Cosgrove says. "Unfortunately we're going to have to take $20,000 out of our budget from somewhere. And someone's going to have to suffer."
Members of the Bergen Audubon Society say they are enjoying every moment they can with these intelligent birds, even if it's just for another few weeks.