ERIE – Rep. Parke Wentling (R-Crawford/Erie/Lawrence/Mercer), a member of the Joint Legislative Conservation Committee, recently attended the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus meeting held in Erie to discuss environmental issues impacting the region.
During the site visit, Wentling presented an issue he has been working on for many years – protecting ospreys from the dangers of nesting on power lines which can fatally harm the raptor and their young and cause power outages to communities.
Ospreys, which were once registered on the endangered and threatened species list in Pennsylvania, are found along large rivers and lakes and tend to build their nests on top of man-made structures such as power lines. In order to remedy this issue, Wentling has worked diligently to form a strong partnership among various companies and organizations in the Northwest region to help find a safer place for ospreys to reside.
Through the collaborative efforts of FirstEnergy and the Erie Bird Observatory, the construction of osprey nesting boxes on utility poles located near power lines came to fruition. To date, several nesting boxes have already been erected in the region.
“Building these nesting boxes is beneficial not only to ospreys who will be protected from electrocution by power lines, but to residents in communities who would otherwise put themselves at risk for frequent episodes of disruptive power outages,” said Wentling. “I am thrilled that our efforts continue to be successful and our partnership is growing across the region.”
At the GLLC meeting, Wentling and a number of individuals representing utility power companies and conservation groups met at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle to view an osprey nesting box.
Recently, the partnership expanded with Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative Association joining in this endeavor to protect the osprey population. Mary Grill, president and CEO of Northwestern Rural Electric, stated their eagerness to join forces. “Our co-op understands the detrimental consequence that occurs when ospreys nest on power lines – both to the birds and to the consumer members confronted with lengthy power outages – so it made perfect sense to team up with this effort that is beneficial to ospreys and to our co-op.”
Sarah Sargent, executive director of Erie Bird Observatory noted her enthusiasm about this collaborative effort. “We are excited to continue our partnership with FirstEnergy and our newest affiliate, Northwestern Rural Electric, to help ospreys nest safely while preventing service disruptions. We see this project as a win for the birds and a win for the customers in areas with lots of ospreys.”
Residents in the area who see birds nesting atop power lines are encouraged to contact the Erie Bird Observatory at 814-580-8311 to report the pole number.
Representative Parke Wentling
17th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross