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June 26, 2012

[EDITOR'S NOTE: DNR avian ecologist Patricia Manthey and retired wildlife biologist Ron Eckstein will talk and take questions about ospreys on The Larry Meiller Show June 27. The radio show is live from 11-11:45 a.m. and can be found on these WPR Ideas Network stations or online during that time or later via their audio archives. (links exit DNR)]

MADISON - Work continues this summer to help assure that osprey, the diving, fishing raptor that flew off the state threatened species list in 2009, continue to thrive in Wisconsin and return to other states, state endangered species officials say.

Osprey chick
Osprey, a raptor that summers and nests in Wisconsin, have been restored to Wisconsin skies and removed from the state's endangered and threatened species list.
Patricia Manthey photo

"Osprey have been a great success story for Wisconsin, and we continue to work with partners to keep the good news coming and to help other states, where we can, restore this majestic bird to their skies," says Patricia Manthey, Department of Natural Resources avian ecologist.

More information about this success story and a live Web cam trained on an osprey nest in Collins Marsh Wildlife Area are found on the osprey feature page in DNR's year-long web series, "Celebrating 40 years of protecting Wisconsin's natural heritage."

Osprey, a fish-eating raptor that summers and nests in Wisconsin, were placed on the state's original endangered species list in 1972 after indiscriminant shooting, lakeshore development and pesticide use eliminated the bird from southern Wisconsin, according to Ron Eckstein, a retired DNR wildlife biologist who continues to work with the species.

Wisconsin's 1969 ban on the pesticide DDT and the national ban that followed helped get the recovery started; DNR management plans that restricted activities near nesting areas on public lands during nesting times, and cooperation with landowners to protect osprey nests on private lands, protected more than 80 percent of all known eagle and osprey nests.

Installation of more than 200 osprey nest platforms between 1972 and 1993 by DNR biologists and in more recent years by various power and transmission companies also played a critical role.

Osprey populations reached 300 pairs and the species improved from endangered to threatened status in 1989; their numbers grew past 400 breeding pairs and the bird was removed from the state threatened list in 2009.

Osprey remain a "species of concern" in Wisconsin and are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which makes it illegal to hunt, capture, kill or offer for sale any migratory bird. Concerns remain about adequate nesting habitat because of the condition of many of the platforms, Manthey says.

DNR and partners continue to monitor the bird's populations and work with partners to protect nesting habitat, efforts that in 2011 yielded 527 breeding pairs in 57 of the state's 72 counties. The largest number of birds are in Oneida County, where there were 85 pairs.

Preliminary results from aerial surveys just completed this month suggest that about 500 nests are active.

Follow up aerial surveys will be done of some of those nests; due to limited resources, the surveys will be mainly focused on identifying nests with multiple chicks to help continue a partnership program with Iowa, Manthey says.

Again this year, DNR will take chicks from nests with multiple chicks and send the young birds to Iowa to jump-start populations there (exit DNR). Manthey says five chicks will be captured from nests with multiple offspring the week of July 9 and the birds transported to Iowa.

Companies recognized for work to erect and protect nesting platforms

American Transmission Company and the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation are the Comeback Champs for June for contributing materials, equipment, staff and funding to build and protect osprey nesting platforms so crucial to rebuilding the raptor's population.

The two companies are to be honored by DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp at the state Natural Resources Board meeting June 27 in Siren for their role in helping restore osprey populations in the state.

Osprey prefer to nest on top of the tallest tree around, and in many areas of the state these days, the tallest tree-like structure happens to be a power transmission pole, Manthey says. So, over the last 30 years, ospreys have selected power transmission poles for nesting. ATC and WPSC have actively secured and protected nests on power transmission poles. Today, more than 80 percent of osprey nests occur on human-made structures, and most of these are on platforms provided by DNR managers and partners.

ATC and WPSC's efforts, and those of electric power companies across the state, have helped Wisconsin's osprey population recover from fewer than 100 pairs in 1973 to more than 500 pairs in 2011 and removal from the state's endangered and threatened species list.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia Manthey (608) 792-7207; Ron Eckstein (715) 493-2823

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 26, 2012

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