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Osprey nest causes poor cell signal around Lake Anna

Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 4:01 pm

An osprey nest sits atop this cell tower on Johnson Road in Louisa, disrupting cell service to Verizon customers.

An osprey nest sits atop this cell tower on Johnson Road in Louisa, disrupting cell service to Verizon customers.

Verizon customers have been experiencing some signal loss throughout the central Virginia area and a bird of prey is to blame.

According to Melanie Ortel, spokeswoman for Verizon, an osprey and its hatchlings have nested in the Lake Anna tower on Johnson Road and are causing signal loss throughout the area.

Tristan Pope, manager of Wireless Zone in Mineral, said she has collected more than 50 names and e-mail addresses of customers upset abut the recent drop in service.

One Verizon customer whose service has been affected by the osprey is Suzan O’Neale.

She noticed her service had been cut when she returned home from vacation on June 16.

O’Neale said when she called Verizon about the problem, she was directed through a series of employees who eventually told her the problem would be looked into.

A couple days later, O’Neale received an automated text message from Verizon saying her problem had been resolved, but it hadn’t.

When she called Verizon the second time, the representative told her about the osprey.

“I’m just frustrated and I don’t know what the answer is, because we have so little options here,” O’Neale said.

The federally protected osprey is a fish-eating bird of prey with populations found on every continent except Antarctica.

Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the nest can only be removed if there are no eggs or hatchlings present.

“Verizon is following the guidelines set forth in the Federal Migratory Bird Act.” Verizon Spokeswoman Melanie Ortel said.

According to Ortel, Verizon is in talks with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to discuss any available alternatives regarding the nest and how Verizon may work around it.

Despite the federal protection, osprey are placed in the “least concern” category according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The group also cites the increasing population of the bird since the pesticide DDT was banned for use by the United States in 1972.

Guidelines for nest removal from VDGIF cite that an active nest may only be removed if “it poses a direct threat to human health or safety,” or if the bird and eggs are threatened.

In some instances, an active nest may be relocated if the nuisance caused by the nest’s presence actively interferes with the intended use of the structure.

Osprey hatchlings fledge between eight to ten weeks, meaning that without removing the nest, the service ailments could linger for a couple of months unless they are relocated.

The owner of the tower, Crown Castle, did not respond to media inquiries by press time.