South of the McLure Ferry, and just off Westsyde Road there is an island in the river where Neil Duggan and his family make their home.
Duggan says they aren’t the only ones who live on his island.
“We have bear, coyotes, deer, golden and bald eagles and plenty of other birds,” says Duggan, “We really enjoy all the wildlife that shares the island with us.”
The most recent residents to set up shop on the island are a pair of ospreys who arrived a few weeks ago and have set up housekeeping already with the construction of a large nest.
It’s that nest that is the problem. It’s sitting on top of a hydro pole.
During all the hot weather and dry conditions experienced last week, Duggan says he contacted the Ministry of Environment with concerns that the nest might catch fire, or that a bird might be electrocuted while using the nest and that would start a fire.
The rep on the telephone told him that was a valid concern and they would contact BC Hydro and inform them of this.
Duggan says that BC Hydro then called, and he told them he was prepared to build a platform for the birds to have their nest moved to instead of living on a live power pole, and that he would also have the hole dug for a solitary pole for the nest if the utility company could donate the pole.
A few days after the call Duggan says a BC Hydro rep arrived at his farm, looked at the nest and said it was definitely a fire hazard, and they would “dump it on the ground unless their was eggs in the nest”. The Hydro rep then said the birds have to be moved off in order to install protectors on the pole so they cannot nest there again.
“I used to work for Alberta Fish and Wildlife,” said Duggan, “I certainly don’t want to turn any beautiful birds out. I want to give them a chance to nest here but not on the power pole, so again I offered to build the platform, dig the hole for a pole, and even put the pole in if Hydro could supply an old pole.”
But according to Duggan the BC Hydro rep just answered, “Ugh. We have to abide by the regulations.”
Duggan says he now sits wondering what day the crews will come in to evict his beautiful birds?
“I won’t know until the day comes,” said Duggan, “But if they want to dump it they have to check for eggs first, and if there are eggs there they are required to move it so the eggs are intact and the birds can still care for them.”
Duggan says he understands the fire hazard, but that as a land owner he is very disappointed that the power company had no interest in helping to move the nest.
“I’m disappointed,” said Duggan, “I thought they would be a little more interested in preserving our natural wildlife resources rather than just “dumping the nest”.
In the past BC Hydro r has stated that once an osprey nest is established, BC Hydro cannot destroy it because the birds are provincially protected. At that point the Crown corporation has to install specialized platforms next to the original location.
If the nest is not established and is at the earliest stages, they are able to remove it in the hopes that the birds will rebuild in a tree instead.
BC Hydro often puts triangular fibre glass protectors over power poles that ospreys are trying to nest on, and they note it’s important for residents to understand that BC Hydro is not destroying established nests.