Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) received a call last fall regarding an osprey tangled in string and hanging from a nest near the Lake Granby dam. A wildlife officer responded and determined that the osprey was dead. Without equipment to access the top of the 45 foot tall power pole that supports the nest, there was no way to remove the dead osprey chick and entanglement hazards from the nest.
Learning of the problem, Indian Peaks Rental in Tabernash offered to help. On April 19 Bob Garrett, with Indian Peaks Rental, brought a 60-foot lift to the site so that CPW and US Forest Service staff could remove the dead chick from the nest. Staff also removed a trash bag full of baling twine and fishing line from the nest platform as well as a second platform at Sunset boat ramp. Osprey pairs from both sites landed on the platforms within minutes of the lift descending.
Thanks to the assistance of Indian Peaks Rental, the ospreys near Sunset Point on Lake Granby now have safe nests for the 2020 nesting season. Wildlife managers believe that the mating osprey pairs will likely be laying eggs in the next few weeks.
The incident is a good reminder about how the human environment interacts with the rest of the environment.
“It’s most important that we all pick up after ourselves so that old fishing line and other trash don’t become hazards,” explained CPW District Wildlife Manager Jeromy Huntington. “People can also help out by picking up trash that they find when recreating on public lands. If everyone pitches in, the incredible story of recovery for these birds of prey will continue.”
Guidelines in place for COVID-19 provide an opportunity for homeowners to check their properties for items that can cause wildlife harm. This can be in the form of wire, string, rope, fishing line, and other items that could lead to entanglements. When along the shoreline, it is critical to pick up discarded fishing line. Several fishing line recycle stations are located around the Arapaho National Recreation Area, and other popular fishing access points in Grand County.
Osprey, members of the hawk family, are found in most of North America but these fish-eating birds have an amazing travel schedule. During the winter months, osprey head south – way south – for warmer weather. Osprey typically winter in the tropical regions of Central and South America and then return more than 2,000 miles to their home ranges to build nests and raise young in the spring and summer.
Like many raptor species, osprey were nearly wiped out by pesticides and other hazards in the 1950s and early 60s. The banning of DDT in 1972 helped osprey recover and move off the Endangered Species list. Another key factor in recovery has been the widespread project to build osprey nesting platforms on power poles near large bodies of water. Osprey will typically nest on a high perch near water and power poles made for enticing, but dangerous, nesting spots. With electrical providers seeking to avoid disruptions and wildlife advocates trying to recover the species, a win-win nesting platform project was begun. Electrical providers assisted with the permitting and construction of large nesting platforms that keep the birds out of the electric wires and give bird watchers great access to the fishing exploits of the osprey.
What you can do to help:
- Properly dispose of tangled and unwanted monofilament fishing line in white PVC recycling bins found at most fishing trailheads and parking lots.
- Pick up trash near lakes and streams. Fishing line, fishing poles, tackle, baling twine, dog leashes, rope, bungee cords, tiedown straps, flip flops, socks, underwear and plastic bags have been removed from nests over the years.
- To report birds or other wildlife that appear entangled in debris, call CPW at (970) 725-6200 or US Forest Service at (970) 887-4100.
Randy Hampton is the public information officer for CPW’s Northwest Region. Randy based in Grand Junction, Colorado.