Raptor expert rescues baby osprey in Island Beach State Park

An osprey hatchling (right), just moments after it was released from an entanglement in its Island Beach State Park nest on Tuesday morning. (Courtesy of Ben Wurst/Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey)

An osprey hatchling (right), just moments after it was released from an entanglement in its Island Beach State Park nest on Tuesday morning. (Courtesy of Ben Wurst/Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey)

A raptor expert successfully rescued an osprey hatchling on Tuesday morning in Island Beach State Park.

Viewers of a camera that transmits live video of an osprey nest containing three young ospreys were growing concerned with a piece of marine debris that was distressing the raptors, according to Ben Wurst, the habitat program manager at the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Wurst, the Jersey Shore-based “osprey whisperer” and protégé of the late Pete McLain — the man credited with bringing ospreys back from the brink of extinction in New Jersey during the 1970s — immediately sprung into action upon hearing about the emergency.

With the assistance of personnel from The Friends of Island Beach State Park and a bucket truck from the Seaside Heights Public Works Department, Wurst accessed the nest, perched high on a utility pole, and removed a public bag, which was covering a hatchling.

“The little guy now has a much better chance of surviving to adulthood,” he said. “We’ll be back in three to four weeks to band [the hatchlings] for future tracking.”

Wurst implores the public to be careful with waste, never release balloons and remove litter.

It’s one of multiple rescues Wurst has successfully executed over the years. In July 2016, he joined forces with JCP&L linemen to rescue a young osprey entangled in monofilament from a gill net.

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