Two juvenile ospreys euthanized for maintenance of Calvert County ball park lights

Two juvenile ospreys were taken from their nest Monday at Calvert County’s Cove Point Park in Lusby, then euthanized – this because of maintenance on lights.

Juvenile ospreys are currently in the process of fledging from their nests in Maryland or within days/a couple of weeks of doing so.

But these ospreys never had the chance to fledge.

Cove Point Park ballfield. Calvert County photo.

According to Tanya Espinosa, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection (USDA APHIS), “Under a Cooperative Services Agreement with the county, Wildlife Services removed the birds as they were impeding the replacement/repair of the lights.”

Quite often, ospreys will nest atop lights or utility poles, but many will wait for nesting season to be over before doing any type of maintenance.

Espinosa continued, “Cooperators are given the opportunity to determine whether or not to involve a wildlife rehab facility. In this situation, they decided not to involve a wildlife rehab facility.  The birds were humanely euthanized using methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association.”

While no wildlife rehabilitator was contacted about the two juvenile ospreys, the president of Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (MWRA) wished they would have been.

“Any one of the rehabilitators would have been happy to take care of them and that they probably only had another week to go … which means the work could have been postponed,” explained Kathleen Woods, MWRA’s president and executive director of Phoenix Wildlife Center.

Photos of the ospreys being captured were shared Monday on the MD Birding Facebook group in a since deleted post – several people questioned why it happened, as ospreys are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in coordination with APHIS, can issue depredation permits for legally taking protected migratory birds in some situations.

According to the APHIS website, “Although the USDA Wildlife Services Program is not a regulatory program, we have a role in some regulatory processes. Wildlife Services biologists conduct damage evaluations to provide information to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state wildlife agency as part of their permit processes. WS provides technical assistance to callers with migratory bird conflicts. In some cases, lethal take may be required to resolve these issues or reinforce the effectiveness of non-lethal dispersal. In such cases, WS biologists complete an evaluation form (Form 37) that describes the incident and documents our recommendations for management options. When lethal take is recommended, those forms are forwarded by the applicant with applications and application fee for Federal Migratory Bird Depredation Permits.”

In the Facebook post, there were several people wearing shirts from a company called Lighting Maintenance, along with a man wearing a shirt and hat with the USDA logo – he was photographed putting the ospreys in a pet transport container.

Ospreys migrate to Maryland from southern areas, such as Florida, Central and South America, to mate and raise their young, before going back to warmer areas for the winter.

For these two adult ospreys, these were their only young born this year.

“Ospreys are not considered threatened or endangered or a species of concern in the State of Maryland,” offered Espinosa.

Even so, this decision isn’t sitting right with many people, including Woods.

“So sad they didn’t reach out,” she said.

“Calvert County requested assistance with removal of an osprey nest from a light pole from USDA APHIS-WS, as the location of the nest posed a risk to the health and safety of people, including youth, using the ball fields at Cove Point Park,” according to Sarah Ehman, public information program manager for Calvert County.

Ehman continued, “USDA Wildlife Services determined that nest relocation was not possible. Newer light poles being installed include osprey nesting platforms to more safely accommodate the presence of ospreys at county parks. These platforms have already been installed at Dunkirk District Park, Hallowing Point Park and Cove Point Park and are in use by osprey at these locations.”

Lighting Maintenance opted not to release a statement.


Update – Calvert County released another statement Wednesday –

“The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has issued the following statement regarding the removal of an osprey nest from a light pole at Cove Point Park:

“We have received a number of comments and questions regarding the removal of an osprey nest from a light pole at Cove Point Park.

Because the nest was located in an area adjacent to a ball field, the nest posed a risk to the safety of the public; the light pole at Cove Point Park is not equipped to accommodate the presence of ospreys. The presence of the nest could endanger visitors to Cove Point Park with the risk of falling sticks or other nesting material.

Calvert County Government enlisted the services of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, through a cooperative services agreement, to remove the nest. Due to the nature of this agreement, Calvert County Government was not consulted or informed as to why or how the decision was made to euthanize the juveniles in the nest rather than relocate. For the safety of the birds we often enlist the services of USDA.

Moving forward we will work to ensure that any ospreys removed from county property will be relocated and will communicate this position with USDA. We appreciate and value the outpouring of concern for our county’s natural resources. The county is in the process of installing lights equipped to safely accommodate the presence of ospreys at our parks, to enable wildlife to coexist in our recreation spaces.”

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

30 Replies to “Two juvenile ospreys euthanized for maintenance of Calvert County ball park lights”

  1. Why didn’t they wait till they fledged? What was so important to change the light bulbs? There was no threat to anyone. The original article stated they would be going to a rehab place and later released. They lied. Shame on you.

  2. Just wrong! No reason to do this at this time. I know a few people down there I’d like to euthanize. Do I need a permit?

  3. This is a disgrace. I know a few people who now need to be euthanized. Do I need a permit or can I just do it randomly like this?

  4. just go for it, help save our taxpayer dollars !! this is pathetic but the usda and APHIS are useless, get paid for doing little

  5. Why was APHIS involved anyway? Anyone know why Calvert County Natural Resources wasn’t involved, or DNR for that matter? Outraged!

  6. I agree with you, 100%!! I also read about them “supposedly” going into a rehab, as well, and that “DNR” was called…🤔 This is just so sad. And, the poor parents, gone to get food, or whatever, only to come back and find their babies, GONE! I really wonder about folks, sometimes…

  7. Why couldn’t they wait 1 week. Is that too much to ask. What’s next??? This is an outrage, who is looking out for our wildlife? So many people would have rushed in to save these babies

  8. Gross. Congrats to all of the MBAs and public policy masters who made this happen. Glad to see you didn’t let critical thinking and problem solving get in your way to spend as much money as possible before the end of the fiscal year. Please make your budgets comparing euthanasia to waiting two weeks public so all may admire your wicked awesome 6 Sigma skills!

  9. The DNR is the LAST organization anyone should call when it involves wildlife. Their go-to plan is always to kill the animal. Their main focus is to support hunting because it brings in money — the more hunting licenses they sell the more $$$ they get in their greedy little pockets.

  10. This is seriously messed up!!! There is really no logical justification for killing these birds. They came so close to moving on. If you’ve ever really paid attention to most of the avian species, they work their ass off to get there young to this point…. The parents, providing they survive, will most likely come back to this place to once again attempted to raise young, What’s your future plan ?? Might as well euthanize the parents while you’re at it… Hey, btw, who won the BB game.. seriously ( sarcasm)

  11. This is totally disgusting! Shame, shame, shame on the people allowing it and the people doing it! HOW could this happen to innocent young birds doing what is natural to them. Every day I get a little more disappointed in the human race. 😪😪😪😪

  12. I totally agree, Christine. I want to know what the person who administered the injections was thinking. I assume this was the method used. When someone in this position doesn’t see why this is so terribly wrong and doesn’t question what they are about to do; taking these 2 beautiful creature’s lives when they could have been sent elsewhere and cared for,

  13. This is pretty messed-up. But ya’ll should realize that had it been a songbird nest (robin, cardinal, warbler) the workers would have removed it with nobody knowing and certainly no news article. It was wrong to remove the birds and if it was such a hazard to public safety why did they let the ospreys nest there?

  14. All they had to do was wait a few weeks and they’d have been fledged, euthanizing them for the stated reasons was unacceptable! And as far as materials falling from the nest all you had to do was put up something around the base of the light to keep people away. It doesn’t seem like anyone looked at anyway to spare these birds. I’m part of a network of Osprey observers in our state and have seen numerous Osprey young die this year due to humans and our trash. You didn’t even give these nestlings a chance. Shame on each and every person and agency involved! Despicable😡😡😡😡😡😡

  15. Good grief. How disgusting can humans be? Is it all of Calvert County, or are there only a few dirtbags in this part of the state? What kind of a piece of garbage actually kill these innocent babies?

  16. Is there no way this can be prosecuted? They are protected!!! This is absolutely a disgusting act completely without reason. 1 week until fledging? The only threat to the ballpark was that some children might have been educated as to the majesty, beauty, and strength of these birds. Instead, they were shown that nature is something to be kicked aside for the convenience of modern living. This was some weird, sick, and fundamentally dark human killing off some helpless birds because of some shortcoming of the self. Period.

  17. This is disgusting and those involved should be, I cannot even complete that statement without getting into trouble. Humanly euthanized- try murder. Those young birds did nothing. Lights and a ball park are NOT more important than a life. And this crap about safety … I call B.S. These people (and I use that term as I am being polite) should feel guilty and ashamed for acting so stupidly and inhumanly. The poor parents. I would like to know how they would feel to have their children kidnapped and murdered because that is exactly what they did. Such SCUM. Please share this with those involved.

  18. That lighting company Lighting Maintenance Inc should be ashamed. They removed the birds and had them in the pet carrier. They could have moved the birds. They are responsible for the death of these juvenile Opreys. Probably happens all the time with this firm.

    1. USDA APHIS removed the birds and euthanized them. This was done with a depredation permit approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All of this was done through an agreement initiated by Calvert County.

  19. Utterly obscene, outrageous INEXCUSEABLE thing to do, and every one involved in this despicable action from the top down to the lighting company should be FIRED and PROSECUTED.
    Anyone in that area should actively attend whatever kind of county meetings are held (in person or Zoom) and hold these bastards accountable.
    Maybe this is what covid is here to do – cull OUR herd of the stupid and miserable.

  20. DNR is the WORST. DNR stands for Does Nothing Right. All they and their fellow agencies do is kill and pocket hunting money. They never help ANYTHING.

  21. I never understood why this had to happen. It shouldn’t have. Today I saw a FB post by my electric COOP in Vermont regarding a positive Osprey nest situation, the Osprey lived and the parents came back to take care of them. This situation should be the standard for ALL states. Check their newsletter for a full account of the story:

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