Osprey Trapped, No Help on 4th of July

Crews off for the holiday, protected bird struggles

Osprey Trapped

NEW BERN - High above the Fourth of July barbeques and celebrations, a protected bird was found snared in steel Wednesday morning. A New Bern resident spotted a full-grown osprey near the top of a cell phone tower, its left wing jammed between two metal bars.

The tower is approximately 75 feet high, on Trent Road in New Bern. U.S. Cellular owns the structure, where an osprey nest is clearly visible from below.

"It breaks your heart," said Ellen Westermann, executive director of WildARC, the Wild Animal Rehabilitation Center of Eastern Carolina. "No one will do anything while this beautiful animal struggles to survive."

Crews were unable to rescue the bird of prey Wednesday. Fewer people are available to help on the Fourth of July, and complex federal laws allow only licensed conservationists to handle protected animals.

Westermann said she called U.S. Cellular, with no luck.

"The man named Mike said, 'You can't climb a cell phone tower,'" Westermann said. "I said, 'No I can not, but I am authorized to take care of the animal.' I have the federal permit."

A WildARC volunteer said two osprey circling the tower were trying to feed the trapped bird. With temperatures nearing 100 degrees under a scorching summer sun, the osprey may not last much longer.

New Bern fire officials could not be reached for comment. A representative for U.S. Cellular said a tower climbing crew could be mobilized, but they were not allowed to handle a federally protected animal.

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