Thursday, May 7, 2009

Unfortunate Event

Last week I was contacted by an individual who found a dead adult osprey behind his house, which borders a small lake in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. Ospreys are listed as a threatened species in New Jersey and are protected by the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the state's Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1973. The person was obviously concerned that the death may have been suspicious. So was I. It's not very often that you may find a dead adult that dies while over water and drifts to the shoreline to be found. Many fatalities do occur from impacts to man-made structures, like power lines, buildings, wind turbines, and by electrocution. So earlier this week I picked up the bird and transferred it to my Dad, a veterinarian and owner of Barnegat Animal Clinic for a necropsy and/or x-ray to determine if the bird had been shot.
As you can see in the x-ray, there are two small pellets (probably from a shot gun loaded with bird shot), one in the head and one in the neck. So, this bird did not die of natural causes. From here on the case has been handed to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife's Bureau of Law Enforcement and a Conservation Officer will investigate the incident.
This is the first case that I have ever encountered where an osprey was found dead from a gunshot. It is really hard for me to grasp how someone could mistake one of these magnificant birds for a game bird or shoot this bird on purpose.

If you see anyone who is harassing wildlife, destroying habitat or violating any wildlife laws in New Jersey report them by calling Operation Game Thief @ 1(800)222-0456 or WARN DEP @ 1(877)WARNDEP or 927-6337.