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FortisBC shuts down alleged osprey nest in Princeton, while controversy swirls

Princeton birders are upset by a nest possibly being removed

Princeton birders expressed concern last week after FortisBC allegedly removed an osprey nest near Blackmine Road.

While the electricity provider told the Spotlight that a nest was not disturbed, that it was the removal of some sticks, others claim there was an established nest, at least one year old, that was disrupted.

Sue Elwell, a noted local bird enthusiast, said she observed the nest with pleasure last year.

“It was kind of interesting to have three nests in a town,” she said.

Others shared similar stories.

Elwell also acknowledged that osprey nests, which are often located atop hydro poles or the top of dead or flat trees, can create safety hazards for fowl.

There is still a nest on Old Hedley Road and another on Highway 3 near the RCMP detachment.

“When ospreys build nests on live power poles, this causes problems for the birds, as well as our customers and equipment,” said Gary Toft, senior advisor of corporate communications, for FortisBC.

“Debris from a nest can fall on power lines, cause power outages, or fires that can injure or kill ospreys. Such fires can also endanger people and damage our equipment.”

In contradiction to what local birders report, Toft said there was no established nest.

“In this case, an osprey had placed some branches on a power pole but had not yet established a nest.

“Our crews consulted with our biologist who determined that the safest course of action was to remove the branches and place a deterrent on the structure to encourage it to establish a nest elsewhere. We continue to monitor the location to ensure both osprey and public safety.”

He said the company adheres to an osprey nest management program.

“When we see an osprey trying to build a nest on one of our utility poles, we place a construction cone on top of the pole to discourage the bird’s efforts.

“If an osprey manages to build a nest on a live power pole, we obtain the required permit from the Ministry of Forests and then safely remove the nest and move it to an alternate pole with a suitable nesting platform. To date, we’ve installed more than 20 nesting platform poles throughout our service area.”

According to a provincial government website, osprey nests, along with eagle nests, are protected year-round, whether or not the nest is in use.

“It is an offence to possess, take, injure, molest, or destroy a bird or its eggs, or the nests of birds when occupied by a bird or egg (B.C. Wildlife Act, Section 34).

Permission and a written permit from the province are required to remove or modify a tree or snag containing an active nest of these species.”

READ MORE: Highway improvements coming across South Okanagan-Similkameen

While Fortis BC states there was no nest on Blackmine Road near Princeton, this photo from Sue Elwell shows two mature ospreys occupying a space atop a hydro pole.

Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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