Federally protected Osprey nest destroyed off Highway 80

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Many community members in the Coastal Empire are livid that Chatham County workers disturbed a federally protected bird.

They removed an Osprey nest containing three eggs from a light pole near the Islands Expressway Flyover on Highway 80 headed to Tybee Island.

In a statement released today, the county said:

"A company contracted by Chatham County disturbed an osprey nest while changing light bulbs in a light fixture. The light fixture is over 80 feet tall and cannot be reached by traditional means. The light fixture is designed to allow the light ring to lower to the ground for changing the bulbs.

The light fixtures are in place for public safety reasons. The light provides illumination of the Islands Expressway flyover. It is the responsibility of the contractor to obtain any permits necessary to conduct their work. It is the understanding of the County that permits are not needed when public safety is at risk."

The eggs were taken to the Oatland Island Wildlife Center and incubated until they could be transferred to the Center for Birds of Prey near Charleston on Friday. The Department of Natural Resources says removing this nest was reckless.

"If it endangered public safety, I'm sure there was a remedy other than destroying the nest and removing the eggs," said Bob Lynn of the Department of Natural Resources.

He says a simple phone call would have been enough.

"Explain that there's an Osprey nest at the top of this pole. It has eggs in it and we need to get this light fixed," Lynn said.

When angry drivers noticed the missing nest, they vented on Facebook with statuses like this, saying, 'That nest has survived two hurricanes but couldn't survive the stupidity of this city. Unreal."....and, "Why must people be so destructive?!?'

Osprey birds are not endangered species, but they are federally protected by the Migratory Birds Act. The DNR says what the county contractor did was against the law.

As a result of this incident, the county will be reviewing possible procedures and policies related to nesting on county structures.

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