Locals seek political action after Chatham County destroys Ospre - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Locals seek political action after Chatham County destroys Osprey nest

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) -

The fight continues after the home of a federally protected bird was destroyed. A contractor through Chatham County 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 last week, 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.

Nearby resident Jerry Williams has been watching these Osprey birds for six years.

"I live 400 feet to the Northeast of the nesting site. I own the commercial property maybe 200 ft to the southwest of the nesting site," he said as he pointed to the close proximity. 

He claimed since the nest was destroyed, "They're crying constantly. They're circling. They started trying to rebuild the nest."

Williams owns the only clinic in Savannah that takes wildlife, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and doesn't understand why someone didn't give him a call.

"Common sense tells you that if you come upon a raptor nest with eggs in it, you might want to start asking some questions," he said. 

Williams says he begged for a solution from the county. With no luck, he will be taking matters into his own hands. Starting Tuesday morning Williams has a team that will build a new platform for the birds. The only thing he still needs is a pole.

"I can build a platform, but I can't build an 80-100 foot pole," Williams said.

The new pole and platform will be placed on his property. He hopes this will lure the birds to the new structure. While the construction for a new home begins, so will the push from local activist group Speaking Loudly & Often for Animals (SLOA) to create a state law to prevent this in the future. They are currently working with the county and state lawmakers to create a minimum fine for violators.

"Preferably, the higher the better. A minimum penalty for any active nest that's disturbed," said Heather Mathis, an SLOA member. 

With the 2018 legislative session already at a close, the group knows there is a long road ahead, as they will have to wait until the 2019 legislative session to have a new law passed.

"We're aware this isn't something that's going to happen overnight, and none of us are willing to let this drop," Mathis said.

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