Program starts to repopulate osprey in Illinois

DECATUR – Efforts to bring the osprey to Illinois have moved forward with the release of five of the birds in Mason County with plans to release up to 55 birds over the next decade.

"Our chances are good of meeting our recovery goal, moving them from 'endangered' to 'threatened' and to delisting," Illinois Department of Natural Resources endangered species program manager Joe Kath told The Herald and Review in Decatur.

The birds were released Wednesday at Anderson Lake. The DNR hopes the birds will return to the site annually to raise their young.

The five young birds came from Langley Air Force Base in West Virginia, where they were nesting on power poles and in danger of flying into plane engines.

This week the birds were fitted with bands and radio transmitters to track them. They also were weighed and measured at the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur.

The repopulation effort includes many hands. The birds will eat Asian carp prepared by fisheries workers, the Illinois Raptor Center will provide medical care and the Illinois Rural Electric Co-op of Winchester will build poles for the birds' nests.

The state plans to release a group of birds every year for eight to 10 years. The goal is to release about 55 birds. Next year the state hopes to create a release site at Lake Shelbyville in Shelby County.

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