Osprey and river health: an interaction

Posted on 11 May 2017

Montana Living

How osprey and rivers survive

The Clark Fork Coalition with join a University of Montana wildlife biologist to help the public learn how ospreys and river health interact.

On Wednesday, May 17th the Clark Fork Coalition, with University of Montana wildlife biology professor, Dr. Erick Greene, will host a field-based presentation on Missoula’s osprey. Erick will give an overview of the Clark Fork River, its history of mining, the Milltown Dam, what osprey tell us about the health of aquatic systems, and why this one osprey pair in Missoula is so special.

osprey on clark for river

The event is free and open to the public and will take place from 5:15-6:15pm. Participants are asked to gather at the site of the Hellgate Canyon osprey nest at the new Missoula College site at 1205 E. Broadway Street, and park in the far east parking lot (closest to the river) Feel free to bring binoculars or spotting scopes.
 
The Montana Osprey Project is a long-term study of heavy metal contamination and osprey ecology in Montana’s Upper Clark Fork River and its tributaries. Dr. Greene, lead ecologist for the project, has focused especially on the impacts of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that has been found in high concentrations in osprey. Mercury and other heavy metals are found in abnormally high concentrations in parts of the upper Clark Fork watershed due to historic mining and smelting in Butte and Anaconda, which impacts fish, animals, and people in the lower reaches of the river.
 

 

osprey on clark for river eating fish
“The people, fish, and wildlife of the Clark Fork basin cannot thrive without clean water and healthy rivers,” Karen Knudsen, executive director of the Clark Fork Coalition, said. “Most of us know that on some level, but the research of the Osprey Project brings it home in a whole new way. These birds, which are such a dynamic symbol of our community, are also an honest reminder of how much work remains to be done to ensure our rivers are clean, healthy, and whole.”
 
The May 17th event is part of the Coalition’s monthly “Water Walks and Talks” learning series, which keeps citizens informed about hot topics and recent developments in the Clark Fork River watershed. For more information on the Walks & Talks series, and the Clark Fork Coalition, visit www.clarkfork.org.



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