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This Week’s Creature Feature ... Farewell Olive Osprey

Death interrupts but does not end the osprey cycle

As the osprey head south this year, we say goodbye forever to one special bird: Olive Osprey.
    Like many of her species, she was shot. Not over Cuba or the Dominican Republic, where fish farmers consider osprey birds of prey. Olive was shot as she sat on her eggs in her nest in Southern Anne Arundel County, where she had been welcomed and had gained celebrity.
    Her killers were neighborhood boys.
    Olive was the heroine of my book, Oscar and Olive Osprey: A Family Takes Flight. Since 2006, I have watched their Chesapeake family life on the platform my neighbors helped me erect on the end of my pier in Holland Point. The second season, 2007, Oscar and Olive had chicks. That year I named each one. By the third season, 2008, I knew I would write a book about the osprey family that reminded me so much of human families.
    Oscar and Olive returned this year, their sixth season, and settled into domestic life, repairing their nest, mating, fishing and tending their eggs.
    Until May, when I saw two boys on my pier, armed with BB guns.    
    When I reached them at the end of the 110-foot pier, I saw that they were looking down at an osprey floating dead in the water.
    We just shot the bird, they reported.
    One of the boys was 10 years old; the other 14. The 10-year-old’s father had given the boys the two loaded BB guns and told them they could do target practice in the woods across the street. We were out shooting birds and squirrels, they told me.
    I’d have to call the police, I told them, because they’d committed a grave offense. The osprey is a federally protected bird. Disturbing a nest, let alone killing a bird, carries a $15,000 penalty.
    While we waited for the Anne Arundel and Natural Resources Police, I tried to explain to the boys why osprey matter. The 10-year-old knew about Oscar and Olive; he’d been a student in one of the hundreds of elementary school classes I’d visited to talk about osprey and this pair I knew so well.
    The shooting had been no accident, a juvenile hearing officer determined in June. The boys had walked two or three blocks from the woods onto my property and out to the end of the pier.
    I imagined there would be consequences for the boys.
    Last week, the charges — trespassing, animal abuse and cruelty carrying a concealed weapon and shooting an endangered species — were dropped in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

Osprey Life Goes On

    After Olive’s death, I followed the comings and goings of Oscar, the male survivor of the couple, who is recognizable by a missing feather on his right wing. He sat alone on the nest, dutifully incubating the eggs. Male osprey will do this until getting too stressed. After a few days, Oscar gave up, so this year’s eggs did not survive.
    Before the season was over, Oscar welcomed a new female to his nest. It was too late in the year for her to lay eggs, but both birds have been busy maintaining the nest and asserting their claim to it.
    As I wrote at the end of the final chapter of Oscar and Olive’s story:
    “The nest is where they will start a new season and lay new eggs. It will no longer be empty next spring, or the next, or the next. Oscar and [now I change my words, adding his new mate] will come home, and it will once again be full of new life.”

RIP Beautiful Olive. Please provide information on the whoever was working on this care and is responsible for dropping the charges. I have some people they need to hear from. Why wasn't the father charged with something? Is it ok to arm and send kids outside to randomly maim, injure and kills animals in Anne Arundel County??
*It appears it is and I guess it is ok to kill a federally protected animal too. WHY are people being allowed to constantly get away with these things? THAT is not acceptable in any way. How long would it have been before they started shooting cats and dogs... and they would have. The father is a POS who is setting no moral values and is perpetuating animal abuse. This was a federal offense and still the charges are dropped? WHY? Why does ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY not value the lives of animals? This incident would have shown other kids and some parents that animal abuse will not be tolerated in AA County. Yet again, a chance to do the right thing was lost. The rest of the world is working to end animal abuse and AA County needs to get with the program, stop acting like a bunch of rednecks and stop perpetuating and condoning animal abuse. Example: it is not humane to chain or pen a dog 24/7 365 days a year. It is called neglect yet AA County still won't pass laws to prevent this neglect. Animal Control will not adopt out any pit bull or pit bull mix to a person. If a rescue cannot get them out they die - ALL OF THEM no matter how nice or how old. They kill puppies for being "that breed." Can you say ignorance? How is that respectful of animals? Why are we so behind in our care and concern for aninmals here? ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY needs to protect and care for all the animals..... companion or wild, that live here from abuse, neglect, torture and death. I am embarrassed to admit I live in a place where the culture is accepting of violence against animals.

I would also like to know who was responsible for making the decission on this case. The first thing I would recommend this person do is to look up the definition of the word "sense". I did look it up. I noticed that the third definition of the word was in all capital letters as if this particular definition were of greater importance. Quoting directly from the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary this is the third definition given: "3: CONSCIEOUSNESS, SANITY". There were other definitions that would apply to this situation. "6b: sound mental capacity and understanding; also: agreement with or satisfaction of such power (this decision makes~) I continued to look for the definition of "common sense". It reads as follows "syn SENSE, COMMON SENSE, GUMPTION, JUDGEMENT, WISDOM mean ability to reach intelligent conclusions. SENSE implies a reliable ability to judge and decide with soundness, prudence, and intelligence; COMMON SENSE suggests and average degree of such ability without sophistication or special knowledge; GUMPTION suggests a readiness to use or apply common sense; JUDGEMENT implies sense tempered and refined by experience, training, and maturity; WISDOM implies sense and judgement far above average. Of course there is much more information on these words and there definitions in the dictionary. However, I was particularly interested in the definition of "COMMON SENSE". I wanted to decide if the person responsible for the decision to drop the case seemed to display any knowledge of the definitions of the word. This being a Federal Offense, I would also like to know where this case was tried. I thought cases were tried in the court system based on whether the offense was a Civil or Criminal (misdemeanor or felony). I am not suggesting these boys or their father be severely punished to the fullist extent of the law. I do feel there should have been some form of consequence for their actions. The suggestion of some community service for both father and sons I thought was a good idea. Why have this Federal Law? Why have any Federal Laws if they are to be made a mockery of in court. What message is being sent to the public at large as far as Federal Laws go? We only enforce (another good word to look up) some of the Federal laws. Maybe it was thrown out of court because it was not in the correct court to begin with and could not be tried there. The facts as I understand them were a Federal Law was broken and for whatever reason dismissed. Can I go out and commit a felony and have no consequences? My reason for wanting to know who was responsible for dismissing the case is because if they hold their position because they were elected. I would want to make sure I did not vote for them ever. I would like to know if there is somewhere I can read more information about this incident. I don't appologize for wanting in some way to feel justice was served. It makes me sick to my stomach that this type incident happened in the first place. It would be just as disgusting to treat our wildlife in this manner even if there were no Federal laws protecting them. The only reason I believe any animal should be killed is for food or if an over population is threatening either people or (take over) the existence of all of another species.

I have more I want to investigate before I put this out there for the public to read. I am going to save it for now and I'm not sure this being my first time on this site what will happen when I save it, but here I go.

Reading the story about Olive Osprey Was refreshing and sad… refreshing to know that Oscar has found a new mate and the cycle will go on…. Sad because another cycle will also no doubt continue…one of disregard for rules, safety and respect for private property. The boys obviously were not taught that actions carry consequences All charges dropped?! No punishment?! …. And what about the parent who gave them the guns with no guidance or supervision? …. Talk about child abuse!

I am not suggesting jail time but what’s wrong with community service time…. Beaches desperately need cleaning and a father-son day collecting trash might wake them all up!

How sad to read of OUR loss of Olive. How sad it is to lose Oscar and Olive's last brood. How sad that an adult would allow unsupervised use of a gun of any type. How sad that two children will carry always the memory of killing an unarmed, nonthreatening bird. How sad that the Justice Department lost an opportunity to teach these two youngster a lesson in the value of life. How sad that the Justice System did not mete out justice to an adult who led these two astray. How sad we do not value what we have been GIVEN. Let us not be sad in the future - let us work to value all life.

I am very sad to see this. They birds are just so beautiful & I have watched many of them in my ife. I hope these boys will learn a valuable lesson. I think their parents should be held responsible as well. Why did they have BB guns at that age. Guns are not for Children to play with. This just shows what can happen. This is insane. Please tell me why charges were dropped ? This is why kids feel they can get away with whatever they want. What will it be next maybe a child or another animal ? I guess their Dads did not teach them about being a responsible gun owner. RIP Momma bird. So sad !

Farewell Olive Osprey

We were deeply saddened to read of tragic death of Olive Osprey and her un-hatched chicks in the September 22-28 edition of the Bay Weekly. This feeling was soon replaced with scorn for the two young perpetrators of the crime and the adult that armed them with BB guns and set them loose in the woods for “target practice” without proper instruction or supervision.

As local residents and sailors on the bay, we look forward to the annual return of these amazing birds. We note their behaviors during their brief stay in this part of the world with their nest building and repairs from winter storms, fishing and flying off with a catch, eating away from the nest to avoid contamination while they have eggs in the nest, and how protective and vocal they are in the nest after the chicks hatch. We were astonished one calm evening in Lerch Creek when we witnessed a large female gracefully flying low above the surface of the water and then drag her talons in the water over a great distance to wash them. When family visited with us from Montana, where ospreys are also prevalent, they really enjoyed being able to see them on the day navigation markers on the water and in the numerous poles with platforms made available to them in the area. That Christmas, I gave my sister-in-law a copy of the informative and colorful Oscar and Olive Osprey which remains one of her prized and favorite books. With all the ordeals and difficulties set before us in these troubled times, through the book and regular stories in the Bay Weekly, we had a beautiful, and recurring account of part of the lives of these two birds, set here in our back yards. An informative and inspirational story and an uplift for the spirit. Now, this has been torn from us by this shameful act.

The author, Jane Suss stated in the article that she called the appropriate authorities and thought there would be consequences for the boys that killed this celebrated bird and by doing so, her clutch of developing offspring. I am sure that some said in the Anne Arundel Circuit Court that “they are only children” and that “they are good kids”; however, some measure of punishment should have been administered. While in their formative years and having had some instruction of the importance of wildlife, these boys have demonstrated that they still do not appreciate the beauty and natural wonders of the place in which they live. Now that the charges of trespassing, animal abuse and cruelty, and shooting an endangered species have been dropped, this outlook will probably be perpetuated as these two villains have further learned that responsibility, rules of conduct, and the rule of law do not apply to them. Without consequence for their actions, only time will tell what their next crime will be against nature, one or more of us, or as in this case, another crime against us all.

While these two perpetrators were not held accountable for their actions, and as minors, their identities protected, the citizenry should be informed of the name of the Circuit Court Judge in this case so that the court’s disregard of the rule of law and injustices such as this will not continue past the next election cycle.

Farewell to Olive and best wishes to Oscar and his new mate for a safe journey. We hope to see you in the spring.

I just had to break this new to my 10-year old daughter who because of Oscar and Olive has become obessed with Ospreys. She is heartbroken!!
She also is a Hunter and hunts with her Dad but would NEVER be allowed to walk around alone with a BB GUN...
What is wrong with this countries justice system??
Those boys had serious charges against them and don't have to pay for what they've done??? Even if it's just community service, repairing a nest or cleaning up a beach anything to make them understand what they did was wrong... This senseless violence is sickening!! My thoughts and prayers go out to Mrs. Suss and her family!!

The Ivy Family

I am both sad and outraged about the murder of Olive (and ultimately her babies). The father gave the boys BB guns and let them loose. At the very least the father should be accountable and the boys required to do community service. We have Osprey in our neighborhood, and they return every year. Luckily they nest high in the trees where mindless humans can't so readily hurt them. Dona Weingarten

I am saddened by this careless act of violence and am outraged that the boys have no accountability. Unbelievable! Anyone have an idea where I can send a letter? Thanks, Lisa

Here is Mrs. Suss's website..
You can find her email under contact!!

Also Outraged

We are new to North Beach and very fortunate to being living in Holland Point. One of the nicest surprises I discovered when I moved in was that there was an osprey nest just up the street from my home. I was fascinated by their arrival and watched and listened to them sprucing up their home and welcoming their babies. When I read that Olive was shot and killed in her nest I was first saddened that this amazing bird was "accidentally" shot. My sadness turned to outrage when I later learned that these boys were given bb-guns and then scooted out the door to go shoot whatever they wanted to, with no supervision. Shame on these parents. And yep, I am angry that there were no consequences suffered by these boys and doubly angry that the parents only received a verbal spanking in court. It's a very sad day, indeed

this is horrible indeed. I guess the best thing we can do is find out who the judge was in this case and do everything in our power to vote the idiot out of his office. Am I wrong? So much of this going on in our world- who is gonna make somebody responsible for their actions. I know they were kids- but at least some community service would of drove the point home.