Osprey rescue mission involved Fire Department, LVE and the Raptor Center

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Osprey are not bats. They should not be hanging upside-down in the wild. Not unless something is wrong.

A sharp-eyed community member spotted a young osprey last Wednesday, September 5 hanging upside-down from a nest platform on Swinging Bridge. A call was placed to the Teton Raptor Center (TRC) at about 1pm.

Rehabilitation Coordinator Sarah Ramirez answered the call and figured out pretty quickly that the Fire Department was going to be needed to get to the bird. Lower Valley Energy also arrived with a bucket truck and supplies to provide further assistance.

Osprey rescued but could not be saved

Upon arrival, it was clear the osprey had its wing and a foot tangled in baling twine, unable to get free. Firefighters Dave Meagher and Matt Redwine from the Jackson Fire Department arrived to assist Sarah Ramirez with the rescue.

Ramirez and Redwine were lifted up to the bird in the fire truck. Ramirez took hold of the osprey’s feet and supported the body as Redwine cut the bird free. Once they were lowered down, the two immediately began working on removing the twine from where they could.

Upon removal, Ramirez noticed another pair of osprey feet within the ball of baling twine. It is likely another osprey had died this past year in the same ball of twine.

Ramirez met TRC’s Raptor Care & Volunteer Coordinator, Jessie Walters, at Jackson Animal Hospital, where the two further removed the remaining twine. Once removed, it was clear that both the ulna and radius were broken, compounding through the skin and turning black.

The wrist and fingers were stiff and cold, and likely had been lacking blood flow for at least a week’s time. X-rays revealed completely shattered ulna and radius.

After a discussion amongst Ramirez, Walters, Dr. Carleton and Dr. Wienman it was determined that the osprey would never regain function in her injured wing, eliminating the possibility of returning to life in the wild, and indicating that the most compassionate course of action was euthanasia.

You can help our feathered friends

Baling twine is used to keep hay bales together, and is oftentimes left in fields. Osprey line their nest with many soft natural materials, such as moss and grass, but have a special affinity to picking up baling twine. This polypropylene rope very easily gets tangled in an osprey’s sharp talons, and in the case of this young chick, can wrap around wings and legs. Each year, young chicks and adult osprey are endangered by filament entanglement. You can help prevent injuries by picking up your used baling twine or fishing line, storing it in an area out of sight, and disposing of it properly.

Also last week, TRC staff rescued a different injured osprey, this time tangled in fishing line. The bird was spotted on the Snake River a mile and a half up from the Wilson Bridge standing on a rock bar only accessible by boat. With the help of a fishing guide from ?Grand Fishing Adventures?, staff was able to rescue the bird. The female osprey had two fishing hooks stuck in her, one in her left leg and one in her chest.

Additionally, she had fishing line wrapped around her legs and one of her wings, rendering her unable to fly. Her treatment includes daily cleaning and dressing of wounds and a of course of antibiotics to prevent infection. Her bruising and wounds are healing well, and she is expected to return to the wild within a few days.

Teton Raptor Center sends huge thanks to the original finder, Jackson Hole Fire Department, Lower Valley Energy, and Jackson Animal Hospital for the quick response and team effort that led to rescuing this patient.

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