CHICAGO
03/13/2012 09:26 am ET

Chicago Police Outdoor Firing Range Plan Ditched After Discovery Of Bald Eagles' Nest (VIDEO)

Plans for a Chicago Police Department firing range on the city's Southeast Side have been halted after the city's first bald eagle was discovered in a nest nearby.

The 40-person, 33-acre range, which would have provided space for law enforcement training, has been the subject of an ongoing battle between the city and conservationists. Late last year, groups including the Chicago Audubon Society spoke out against the planned range because it argued that it would put area migratory birds, including bald eagles, the state endangered black-crowned night heron and others at risk.

(Scroll down to watch a report on the matter.)

The range's lease was, nevertheless, narrowly approved by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District this year, though that vote was complicated after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources confirmed that bald eagles had nested in the wetlands directly adjacent the range's planned site. The bird is protected under both the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, WBEZ reported.

"We are certainly sensitive to the issue, and I’m a big animal lover," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told WBEZ last month.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the police department would have been required to obtain a special permit for the range, located in the 2000 block of East 134th Street near the Hegewisch Marsh, as a result of the bald eagle nest's discovery.

WATCH a "Chicago Tonight" report on the Chicago Police Department's now scrapped gun range plan:

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