Work order raises questions regarding nest removal

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A male osprey lands Monday with a stick for his nest, two days after Connecticut Light & Power workers removed a nest on the pole, citing safety concerns. –CONTRIBUTED

BEACON FALLS — A Connecticut Light & Power Co. work order appears to indicate that a line worker found eggs in an osprey nest atop a utility pole in Beacon Falls before the nest was removed Saturday, although the company continues to insist that no eggs — protected by state and federal laws — were present.

According to a CL&P “trouble ticket” a worker was assigned to remove a blue tarp hanging from the top of the utility pole, which overlooks the Naugatuck River from Lopus Road Extension outside the Beacon Falls substation.

The words “EGGS IN NEST DO NOT REMOVE” appear in handwritten capital letters in a box titled “work performed.” The work order is signed and dated April 19 by a lineman identified as M. Farrow.

Underneath the statement about the eggs appear written instructions to remove the tarp and nest “if possible” using a bucket truck. Finally, a starred and circled note, bearing the initial “B” and another letter that is illegible, states that the nest was removed Saturday, the 21st.

CL&P spokesman Mitch Gross said he did not know who the signature and initials represent. He said the words about the eggs were shorthand intended to inform workers not to remove the nest if eggs were found inside.

The nest removal was not completed April 19 because workers determined they would have to cut power to remove the nest, Gross said. The job was rescheduled to early Saturday morning so hundreds of sleeping customers would not be affected by a momentary outage, Gross said.

“I’m not sure who generated the actual ticket, but the bottom line is there were no eggs,” Gross said.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has accepted CL&P’s explanation, spokesman Dennis Schain said.

“We’re still looking into it and talking to folks, but we really don’t see any evidence to indicate there were eggs in the nest, and we believe it would be on the early side for there to have been eggs,” Schain said.

Investigators did not find yolk or any other substance to indicate that eggshell fragments found around the base of the utility pole on Sunday were fresh, Schain said.

Although osprey in a nest belonging to the Connecticut Audubon Society in Milford laid eggs about a week ago, eggs appear later in nests farther from the shoreline, Schain said.

Kevin Zak, president of the Naugatuck River Revival Group, found the eggshells with Sondra Harman, the group’s secretary. He felt CL&P’s ticket indicated someone found eggs in the nest.

“To put two letters in front of that, saying, ‘If,’ is a very odd thing to forget,” Zak said.

The ospreys continue to try to rebuild their nest atop the same utility pole, but their breeding might now be delayed, Zak said. Their eggs incubate for 30 days, and any chicks born late in the season might not be ready come fall for the annual migration to Central or South America, Zak said.

“They traveled thousands of miles to do this,” Zak said. “They’re under a lot of stress and they’re confused. Their nest was destroyed, blatantly destroyed, and their eggs were destroyed.”

The utility company plans to erect an osprey platform at the intersection of Cold Spring Road, Black Forest Road, and Lopus Street Extension Friday morning between 9 and 11 a.m.

Local environmentalists expressed sadness and outrage over the weekend after discovering the nest missing.

It was visible from Route 8 with the female osprey often sitting inside as if incubating.

Osprey, a type of hawk with a white underbelly and curved wings, were considered endangered in the 1970s but have since grown in population. A second osprey nest can be seen along the Naugatuck River in Beacon Falls, and others exist in Naugatuck and Ansonia.