A BC Hydro crew in Ashcroft got an unusual call-out on April 19, and ended up having a close encounter of the avian kind as they worked to free an osprey that had become tangled in baling wire dangling from a hydro pole.
Just after 5:30 p.m., a resident reported the trapped osprey near the bridge that crosses the Bonaparte River at the northern edge of Ashcroft. The pole had been “capped” to prevent osprey nesting on it, and a pair of the birds had established a nest on a blank pole a few feet away, erected by BC Hydro for that purpose.
However, remnants of a previous nest still dangled from the live pole, and one of the adult osprey got a leg tangled up on a dangling piece of baling wire. The bird was hanging upside down from the pole, unable to free itself, when Greg Hiltz, Zac McKee, and Sean Donaghy of BC Hydro arrived to assess the situation.
Hiltz and McKee went up in a bucket while Donaghy created a point of isolation to be sure it was safe for the others to ground the power lines to get the bird out. They had a large overcoat with them, which they usually use when rescuing cats, although the felines generally risk one of their nine lives and jump before they can be caught in the coat.
After grounding the power lines, Hiltz and McKee edged closer in the bucket. The osprey’s partner circled overhead throughout the rescue effort, keeping a close eye on the proceedings.
The two men managed to safely enfold the osprey in the coat, and held it firmly as the baling wire was removed and the bird was freed after its nearly two-hour-long ordeal. Then, keeping a careful grip on it, they swung the bucket over to the nest and deposited the bird onto it. Hiltz said afterward that the bird was staggering, but that its leg did not appear to be broken.
The men removed the dangling wire from the hydro pole, to ensure that the incident would not be repeated, and received a hearty round of applause from the dozen or so onlookers as they returned to the ground.
Next morning the bird was found by the river, still alive but with an injured leg. As of the time of going to press, arrangements were being made to have the bird transported to the B.C. Wildlife Park in Kamloops for assessment and possible medical assistance.