Bitterroot osprey shooting leaves activists looking for answers


Fifty feet above a lumber yard in the Bitterroot Valley, the same mating pair of ospreys nested on a construction crane for a decade — popular enough to get their own webcam and become fan-favorites of cars passing by.

But on Monday, June 13, the workers at Pioneer Log and Timber noticed something was wrong with the male bird.

It hung upside down from one of the cranes. After a few minutes, it dropped onto the ground, dead from an air-soft pellet that lodged itself in the osprey’s torso.

“It’s just sad — people should know better,” said Darrin Heitmann, director of operations for Pioneer. “That bird had been here longer than me.”

The shooting is the first killing of an osprey by gunfire this year, but one of five birds of prey to get shot recently in the Bitterroot Valley. The species is federally protected. Avian activists took notice, X-rayed the bird and are raising reward money for a tip that could identify the bird-killer.

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But the mysterious killing is like most osprey shootings: no witnesses, no exact location and no tips. All that’s certain is birds of

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