New Brunswick

J.D. Irving Ltd. pleads not guilty to disrupting Great Blue Heron colony

J.D. Irving Limited and a company foreman pleaded not guilty in court in Burton on Monday to charges of disrupting a Great Blue Heron nesting colony last summer.

J.D. Irving Limited and a company foreman pleaded not guilty in court in Burton on Mondayto charges of disrupting a Great Blue Heron nesting colony last summer.

The New Brunswick forestry company was charged under the Migratory Birds Convention Act. It's alleged that J.D. Irving Limited built a logging road through the middle of a Great Blue Heron nesting colony, and, as a result, some nests were destroyed.

"We have entered a plea of not guilty and the reason we have done that is because we believe that we have, have exercised care and diligence in identifying and also in our efforts to protect the heron habitat," said Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith.

Keith says the company is contesting the charges and does what it can to protect heron nesting grounds.

A logging road was closed in September by the company after a Natural Resources conservation officer found six destroyed nests. It was later found that between 12 and 20 heron nests had been destroyed.

The nests were part of a large colony, and the incident has sparked an investigation by the Canadian Wildlife Service.

In a letter to people who live near the property, the company outlined its plans to make it easier for the herons to repopulate the colony.

Ian Langlais, the Environment Canada wildlife enforcement officer who conducted the investigation was at court but would not comment on the case.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 5th.The trial itself will run for two weeks beginning on October 9th.

A conviction under the act could result in a maximum fine of $1 million or six months in prison.

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