New Brunswick

J.D. Irving fined $60,000, pleads guilty to destroying heron nests

Forestry giant J.D. Irving Ltd. was fined $60,000 after pleading guilty Monday to destroying a blue heron habitat in New Brunswick two years ago.

Forestry giant J.D. Irving Ltd. was fined $60,000 after pleading guilty Monday to destroying a blue heron habitat in New Brunswick two years ago.

Charges were laid against J.D. Irving in 2006 for violating the Migratory Birds Convention Act by destroying a blue heron colony near Cambridge Narrows on company property, about 80 kilometres north of Saint John.

The company was building a logging road in the area where eight nests were destroyed, the court was told.

J.D. Irving was charged with disrupting the nesting colony and had originally pleaded not guilty.

Judge Patricia Cumming in Burton, N.B., court handed down a $60,000 penalty — a $10,000 fine and a $50,000 contribution to Bird Studies Canada, a non-profit conservation group. As well, the company cannot log in the area for five years.

"I make no finding of negligence … or that this was done intentionally," Cumming said when delivering the fine.

She said it was fortunate that the colony, which appears to have re-established itself, is thriving.

J.D. Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith said the company decided not to fight the charge once it was decided there was going to be an allocation made to Bird Studies Canada, a group the company has had a long-standing relationship with.

"Understanding that and the fact that we were likely looking at a long and protracted legal case, we made the decision to proceed with the settlement that was determined in court today," Keith said.

With files from the Canadian Press