Osprey removed from Pennsylvania’s threatened species list

The osprey, which in recent decades has seen an increasing population and distribution in Pennsylvania, has been removed from the state’s list of threatened species.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners on Tuesday gave final approval to a measure that reclassifies the osprey’s status in Pennsylvania, defining it as a protected species rather than a threatened species.

The board also adopted heightened penalties for those who unlawfully kill ospreys. Similar penalties were adopted when the bald eagle was removed from the state’s list of threatened species in 2014.

The osprey’s status change is called for by the Game Commission’s osprey management plan, which sets goals of at least 50 total nesting pairs with a steady or increasing population, including at least 10 nesting pairs in each of four watersheds over consecutive comprehensive surveys.

Those objectives all were achieved in the 2016 nesting season.

As a protected species, ospreys continue to be protected under state statutes and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The Board of Commissioners also finally approved a heightened, $2,500 replacement cost to be paid by anyone convicted of killing an osprey, a penalty that serves to provide the species additional protection. Additionally, Pennsylvania Game Commission staff will continue to monitor osprey nests to ensure that this species does not regress toward endangerment.

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