PSEG says it will build new pole for osprey nest in Riverside

Saying that PSEG-Long Island subcontractors threw an active osprey nest in Riverside onto the ground after telling the state Department of Environmental Conservation that the nest was inactive, some residents are prepared to march in protest Saturday unless PSEG puts up a replacement pole for the birds.

The osprey nest in question was on top of a PSEG-Long Island utility pole on the south side of Flanders Road in Riverside, near the Tyre Lodge building. Led by Flanders resident Terry Flanagan, residents are planning to march at the site beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday unless PSEG installs a new pole for the birds.

A spokeswoman for PSEG says they will get their wish, and that the company is weighing its options for where to put the pole.

“We are in the process of securing a new location and all necessary permissions to erect a pole for the osprey,” said PSEG spokeswoman Elizabeth Flagler by email Tuesday.

According to Ms. Flagler, “We had two reports of arcing wires at that location over the weekend, the nest was inactive, so we removed the nest before the birds returned and started nesting.

“It is safer for the birds and the electric system to remove the nest before it catches fire and causes an outage affecting a large area of customers. It would be worse if the birds laid their eggs, had chicks and the nest caught fire.”

The issue came up at Monday’s meeting of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association.

Mr. Flanagan, a retired police officer, said he got a call from his daughter Monday morning about the osprey nest.

“She said, ‘I don’t believe it, these people are ripping up the osprey nest,’ ” Mr. Flanagan said.

He then drove there and saw three trucks from Hawkeye Construction, a PSEG contractor.

“I asked what they were doing and one guy said, ‘We’re just following orders.’ When you respond to something like that, you’ve got something to cover up.”

Under state law, an osprey nest cannot be removed after March 15 unless there are no birds nesting. PSEG told the state Department of Environmental Conservation that there were no birds nesting on the pole.

“I have video of the birds today screaming because they are trying to find where their nest was,” said Kathy Kruel of Flanders, who said everyone was excited that the birds had returned.

The workers threw the nest to the ground and left all the garbage there, she said.

“Everyone in this room knows there were birds in that nest,” Mr. Flanagan said.

Ms. Flagler said the DEC was notified and agreed with the removal of the nest, which PSEG maintains was not occupied.

“When workers arrived at the nest, they found it inactive, which means there are no eggs or flightless young,” she said. “The ospreys nesting makes the nest occupied, not active. Due to the emergency of this situation and the time of year, it was imperative to remove the nest before the birds laid eggs, had chicks and the nest caught fire.”

She said the pole was not erected for the purpose of an osprey nest.

“This is a live electric pole which is dangerous for the birds to nest on,” she said.

Photo caption: PSEG-Long Island contractors removed an osprey nest for safety concerns. (Credit: Terry Flanagan)

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