The Game Commission Thursday announced the opening of a 30-day public comment period during which the public can comment on the proposal to remove the osprey from the state’s list of threatened species list.
Criteria for removing the osprey from the state’s threatened-species list are laid out in the Game Commission’s Osprey Management Plan.
The plan calls for removing ospreys as a threatened-species if the population is steady or increasing and, if in two consecutive surveys, at least 50 nesting pairs are documented, including at least 10 nesting pairs each in four of the state’s major watersheds.
Those objectives all were achieved in the 2016 nesting season. In fact, a record 148 active osprey nests were documented in 2016.
Game Commission endangered birds biologist Patti Barber said Pennsylvania’s ospreys exhibit a great deal of tolerance for human activities, a trait that’s helped them to thrive.
More than 90 percent of the nests in the state are built on structures: nesting platforms, communication towers, docks, buoys, old factories – almost anything sturdy enough to support a nest.
“Ospreys are very accepting of the human landscape, and their increasing numbers show it,” Barber said.
Barber said removing ospreys from the state’s threatened-species list would neither hinder osprey populations in Pennsylvania nor knock off course the species’ comeback here.
If the osprey is delisted, the bird will continue to be protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act.
And to provide ospreys an additional layer of protection, the Board of Commissioners has said it would adopt a heightened replacement cost to be paid by anyone convicted of unlawfully killing an osprey.
A similar replacement cost was adopted after the bald eagle was removed from the state’s list of threatened species in 2014.
Comments on the proposal must be received before midnight November 12. The Board of Game Commissioners will consider all public comments received before casting its vote.
Those wishing to submit comments on the proposal to remove the osprey from the state’s threatened-species list may send them by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who are without email may mail their written comments to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Management, ATTN: Osprey Comments, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.For more background, visit the Game Commission’s Osprey webpage.