Got an osprey nesting nearby? Then the DNR nongame wildlife program wants to hear from you.
That's the branch of the DNR that offers the opportunity to make a donation to the "Chickadee Checkoff" on your Minnesota tax forms. It also keeps tabs on more than 800 species of wildlife that aren't hunted or harvested.
That's a big, low-profile and sometimes thankless job for just eight professional specialists, a few wildlife technicians and their assistants scattered across the state. They can't adequately cover all the terrain.
However, citizens have historically helped not only by making donations, but by providing information and input about what's happening in their neck of the woods. Here's some information on a new survey and a way you can help.
While Minnesota has maintained an osprey population, numerous other states have seen their osprey populations disappear entirely. Since DDT and other pesticides were banned the central Minnesota population increased and stabilized.
The nongame wildlife program and The Raptor Center have partnered in an effort to establish osprey in other regions of the state and nation. Additional cooperation came from power companies, like Crow Wing Power and Minnesota Power, and private landowners whose property housed osprey nests.
In the early 1990s, TRC gathered chicks from central Minnesota and released them in the Twin Cites, at Heron Lake in southern Minnesota and in Missouri. Last year osprey chicks were collected from local and other Minnesota locations and transported to South Dakota and Iowa.
Although osprey reintroduction programs have been successful, changing wildlife dynamics, habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation have forced us to assess Minnesota's osprey numbers and nesting locations.
Around Brainerd we have solid numbers, but things may be shifting It seems as if the growing number of eagles may be overwhelming ospreys by highjacking the food that ospreys bring to their young. Eagles also take over osprey nesting sites on structures near powerlines and on dead trees, which are premier spots for nesting osprey.
Osprey habitat loss is alarming. Lakeshore is being gobbled up and altered. Large homes leave little natural spaces between structure and shoreline. Some lakes look like boulder dumps. Erosion, fertilized sod and the removal of aquatic plants are common.
Deteriorating shoreline leads to fewer fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects and organisms, which leads to less food higher on the food chain, where ospreys and eagles feed.
Now back to helping the nongame wildlife program. Its team members, the DNR, Audubon Minnesota and Three Rivers Parks District, did the first statewide osprey survey. The trio would like to know the location and status of active osprey nests before June 30. Contact them by phone, mail or e-mail and provide the following information: Location of nest (county, township, range/legal description), distance and direction from nearest lake or river, distance and direction from nearest town, directions to nest site, nest structure (dead tree, nesting platform, powerline structure, other), company powerline pole information if applicable, number of adults, behavior observed, including adult osprey observed in area, but not at nest, adult at nest or perched nearby, adult on nest in incubating posture, adult feeding young at nest or carrying food, history of the nest (new, fairly recent, old established), year of nest activation if known, and your name, phone number, e-mail address and mailing address, date of report and additional comments.
Locally, contact Pam Perry at email@example.com, (218) 828-2228, 1601 Minnesota Drive, Brainerd, MN 56401.
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