Osprey nest relocation in Good Luck Point was lawful and necessary, expert says

     A new pole and nesting platform (left) and original nesting location on an active utility pole (right). (Photo courtesy of JCP&L)

    A new pole and nesting platform (left) and original nesting location on an active utility pole (right). (Photo courtesy of JCP&L)

    Bonni Myszka was outraged Wednesday afternoon.

    The proprietor of Shack in the Swamp Photography received a call that JCP&L linemen were removing two osprey nests on a utility pole in a marshy area along Bayville Avenue in the Good Luck Point section of Berkeley Township. 

    The Beachwood resident drove to the location and questioned the linemen, who said that they had a work order to remove the nests. 

    “After they left, I parked on Bayview [Avenue] for a few minutes and found the first of our local ospreys had returned, flying around — no doubt looking for the nest,” she said on Wednesday. “Very glad to see they are coming back, but very disturbed at the actions of JCP&L.”

    Ospreys, also known as fish hawks, are birds of prey that typically migrate to New Jersey in mid to late March from their wintering grounds in Central America, northern South America, and the Caribbean.

    In a telephone interview, JCP&L spokesman Ron Morano said the utility company removed the osprey nests, which he deemed as inactive, since they were positioned in an area that is both dangerous to the birds upon their return and the electrical distribution system. 

    The spokesman added that nesting materials were temporary left at the base of the pole in accordance with federal law.

    Linemen returned on Thursday to install a perch on a new pole, with the original nesting material, without electrical equipment 50 yards away. A second pole and perch was installed nearby. 

    “We are active in trying to ensure the safety of ospreys and other endangered birds,” Morano said, citing the recent erection of four platforms and two nest relocations from dangerous areas. 

    Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and a noted osprey expert, said JCP&L corrected a dangerous situation. 

    “As one who is charged with managing the osprey population in New Jersey, we don’t like to see ospreys nesting on utility poles, especially those with live electrical current running through them,” he said in an interview. “Both nests were in jeopardy of catching on fire, which usually happens to one or two nests per year in New Jersey.”

    “The fact that JCP&L went out of their way to do this shows that they are committed to helping to protect our nesting ospreys along the Jersey Shore,” Wurst added. “Osprey nests are only protected from April 1 through Sept. 1.”

    Myszka, who turned to her Facebook page Wednesday afternoon to report on this situation, is pleased to see how the community reacted, with some immediately contacting JCP&L for answers. 

    Wurst said he is grateful for the “citizen scientists” who keep a watchful eye on the sky. 

    “I commend all those who watch and protect ospreys and their nests throughout New Jersey, like Bonni,” he said. “Over the past few years, as state and federal funding has been reduced for their management, we now rely on citizen scientists throughout the state to monitor nests and report activity at nest sites.”

    Data supplied by the citizen scientists is used to help keep a finger on the pulse of the osprey population in the state, according to Wurst. To view all known nests in New Jersey and report activity in the nests, click here.

    The population hit an all-time high in the Garden State last year. 

    If you see anyone removing a nest or harassing a nesting osprey during the nesting season, Wurst says to report it to 1-877-WARN-DEP.

    Learn more about Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ’s Osprey Project: http://www.conservewildlifenj.org/protecting/projects/osprey/

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