Calvert County Administrator signed agreement okaying euthanasia of juvenile ospreys

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Who’s to blame for two juvenile ospreys being euthanized in late July in Calvert County so that maintenance could be done on ball park lights?

Calvert County officials have consistently maintained, since this to story came to light (I was the first to report the birds were euthanized), they didn’t know the birds would be euthanized under an agreement they signed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services (USDA APHIS WS).

Let’s take a look at that agreement.

Maybe Calvert County Administrator Mark Willis didn’t read what he signed? Maybe he missed the part in the agreement that states, “If relocation of the nest is not possible or deemed appropriate, then WS will dispose of the eggs or young.”

Or maybe he thought he’d be consulted once USDA APHIS WS had the agreement signed and their employee was on the lift taking the birds?

So, who’s to blame?

The birds being taken from the nest and subsequently euthanized would have happened had Calvert County not requested help from APHIS.

It doesn’t matter what Calvert County had seen in the past, as mentioned in a recent Washington Post article about the incident – this agreement, signed by Willis, gave USDA APHIS WS the authority the euthanize the birds.

The birds might not have been euthanized had Calvert County done any due diligence about USDA APHIS or the agreement they signed. I wrote about this in a recent editorial.

And it would not have happened if APHIS WS wasn’t getting blanket depredation permits approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As for the excuse that an osprey nest was posing a hazard to humans – until someone can show evidence of anyone being injured or killed by an osprey nest, that excuse just doesn’t fly.

Thanks to Chris Hoffman for the photos he shared that originally brought all of this to light. And for sharing the photos with me also.

Donna L. Cole is an award-winning investigative and multimedia reporter. She’s also a volunteer bird of prey rescuer.

6 Replies to “Calvert County Administrator signed agreement okaying euthanasia of juvenile ospreys”

  1. Thank you for this follow-up! I agree. It appears to me that Calvert County officials are trying to point a the finger and put the total blame on USDA WS when they were the ones that signed off on this agreement and hired USDA WS to perform the “dispose of the eggs or young”. To me “dispose of” clearly means trash, get rid of, not needed anymore, and in the case of living wildlife kill/terminate. There is no language that I can see that even hints to postponing the maintenance or at least contacting wildlife rehabilitators to give the ospreys an opportunity to live.

    And I have to ask: What type of example is this for our own young children? Extract young ospreys from a nest while the parents of these young ospreys had to watch helplessly, then haul them away from the only home they knew, and then kill them, all because of light pole maintenance and that supposedly the nest was a health and safety issue. I’ve been around active ospreys nests all my life on land and on the water at piers and other structures. Overhead active osprey nests have never posed an issue by dropped sticks on people or any other type of danger to people at all that I am aware of. The ospreys are just trying to live. They watch, vocalize, feed their young, and teach them to fly and how to survive!!

    I certainly hope in the future better decisions are made to protect our precious wildlife and instill in our own young children that wildlife does matter even if they do not have a voice. Laws, regulations, rules and processes and permit authority needs to change to protect wildlife from this heartless action in the future.

  2. All they had to do was wait two or three weeks for the birds to finish fledging. Then they could have performed maintenance on the lights. It’s sickening.

  3. I thought these birds were protected! If so, everyone involved should not only loose their jobs but face the same penalties that anyone killing one of these beautiful birds would face! I am so extremely angry about this! Now I want some justice! It just sickens me that Calvert County officials knowingly signed the death warrant of those birds and now are trying to point the blame elsewhere! If you don’t know what you are signing then you shouldn’t have that kind of authority!

  4. Thanks for reporting on this. I have a suggestion for how this story might be further investigated. I have some information and can provide context that could provide better understanding of how this might have been instigated. Please contact me if you wish to discuss.
    Calvert Government officials have little oversight or accountability by the press or anyone. I think that is the bigger story that this incident, as bad as it is, points to.

  5. Glad to see that this story is being investigated. The fundamental question regarding who instigated the chain of events that lead to this outrageous betrayal of stewardship and public trust has yet to be answered. Each of the County Commissioners as well as other high ranking officials need to be asked whether they participated in any conversation or communication relating to this, in order to find out the specifics of who and why?
    The situation was in hand, County personnel had an understanding that the birds would be allowed to finish nesting. Why did that plan suddenly change? And why do certain County Commissioners think it is funny?

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