The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) have partnered to provide nesting platforms for osprey in Vermont. The team recently created two new nesting platforms for the birds at the Eagle Point Wildlife Management Area in Derby, Vermont.
Osprey are large, fish-eating raptors that were once nearly extinct in Vermont due to loss of nesting habitat, declines in fish populations, and the effects of the pesticide DDT. Following a nationwide ban of DDT in the 1970’s, osprey have made a dramatic recovery. They were removed from Vermont’s threatened and endangered species list in 2005.
Osprey prefer to nest on standing dead trees, but many landowners remove these trees. The birds frequently turn to utility poles as an alternative nesting site, often with negative consequences, according to Jeffery Wright, Chief Operating Officer for VEC.
“One of our biggest fears was that osprey would roost or nest on our utility poles, which can damage the poles and harm the osprey,” said Wright. “After a nest caught on fire on one of our poles, we knew we had to start making some changes.”
VEC began collaborating with Fish & Wildlife in 2008 to create osprey nesting platforms throughout northern Vermont. The platforms are placed on the top of a telephone pole near open water. Osprey frequently use the platforms to build nests and fledge their young.
“What began as a strategy aimed at mitigating accidents has turned into a rewarding conservation effort,” said Wright. “Our line workers spend a lot of time in the outdoors and have a close connection to the land and to wildlife. This is a great way for our utility to give back to the environment and is something we can all be proud of.”
Wright added that he has a picture of a nesting platform from Sandbar WMA behind his desk at his office.
“This is truly a collaborative effort,” said Paul Hamelin, habitat biologist for Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “Partnerships like these really strengthen our conservation efforts on our wildlife management areas.”
Media Contacts: Paul Hamelin, 802-751-0101, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept; Elizabeth Gamache, 802-730-1158, Vermont Electric Cooperative