Osprey nest removal OK, feds say

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ABBOT (AP) – Central Maine Power utility crews were justified in removing an osprey nest perched atop a transmission tower, officials said.

Some residents of the Moosehead Lake region were angered to discover that the nest was removed and that smashed eggs were scattered about the ground underneath it last week.

The birds disrupted power the first time on May 13 and again three days later. Each time, about 4,400 CMP customers lost their electricity because sticks from the giant nest came into contact with the transmission line.

CMP, which also experienced three similar outages last year, acted appropriately because the nest was interfering with electrical service to a hospital, nursing home and individual homes employing life support equipment, said Gail Rice, a CMP spokeswoman.

“Federal wildlife laws allow us to remove a nest in emergency situations,” Rice said Tuesday. “This qualified as an emergency situation.”

A federal official involved with wildlife agreed that CMP acted within its discretion.

“They have the latitude in an emergency situation to remove it,” said Edwin Butler of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.

Some residents were still unhappy.

Robert Harper and his wife, Ann, used to drive daily to this Piscataquis County town to watch a male osprey tend to his egg-laying mate. On May 17, they arrived to discover that the only evidence of the nest consisted of broken eggs and a half-eaten fish.

“It just blew my mind,” he said.

A pole was erected by CMP near the transmission line, and this month a platform was added. On Monday, a noisy pair of osprey circled overhead and occasionally landed on the platform, which had the early makings of a nest.

CMP normally tries to avoid disturbing nests, especially when there are eggs or nestlings still in the nest, Rice said. “This is absolutely the last resort for us, to remove a nest that’s actively being used,” she said.

The eggs were destroyed by the birds thrashing around as the CMP line workers climbed the pole to get near the nest, Rice said.



Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangornews.com

AP-ES-05-23-06 1338EDT

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