Osprey restoration starts
in the Lake Yankton area The South Dakota Osprey Restoration Project started its second year of operation last week in the Lake Yankton area. Osprey, a large raptor, once thrived in the South Dakota area but in the 1900s suffered the effects of DDT that caused the bird's numbers to dramatically decline. Last summer, eighteen ospreys were released on Lake Yankton in an attempt to revive the osprey population in the area. This summer with the cooperation of the Idaho Department of Game and Fish, the University of Idaho, Birds of Prey Northwest, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 23 ospreys were brought to the area and placed in the reintroduction tower located near Lake Yankton. The ospreys are held in the tower with hopes they will imprint on their surroundings and return to the area in two years when they reach sexual maturity. Some of the birds will have special tracking devices, about the size of a matchbox, to monitor their movements after being released. The first release of up to 10 birds was held Saturday Aug. 8. Releases will continue in stages through early September. Birds released from the Lake Yankton site can be identified by green and silver leg bands. There are things the public can do to get involved with this project. The main diet of the osprey is fish and the birds need about 40 pounds of fish a day. Donations of fresh fish, not cleaned, from 4 to 14 inches will be accepted to help feed the birds. There is a cooler available at the Training Dike fish cleaning station so that fishermen donate fish. As the birds begin to fly the public can help by watching for downed birds. It is not often that they will be purposefully grounded, so if you do see a bird on the ground it is most likely the bird is injured and needs attention. If you see a downed bird contact raptor biologist and the osprey project coordinator, Janie Fink-Cantwell, at 208-582-0797. In addition to the osprey, four other raptors made the trip from Idaho for the purpose of educating the public. Public programs are being scheduled and the birds will be on display at times in the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center just south of Gavins Point Dam and in the South Dakota Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area office on SD Highway 52. For more information about program dates and times contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 402-667-2546 or the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks at 605-668-2985.