Dr. Tih-Fen Ting teaches ecology and environmental science at the University of Illinois Springfield. She received her Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan and a M.S. in Wildlife from Humboldt State University in California. Professor Ting has a long-standing interest in the conservation and recovery of threatened and endangered species. She has worked with threatened and endangered raptor species at the state to federal to international level, including osprey, short-eared owl, northern spotted owl, and Lanyu scops owl. Her work has taken her to places ranging from the islands along the western Pacific Rim to the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and East Coast of the U.S.
Topic: Win-Win Collaboration: Update on Osprey Hacking in Illinois
Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), a large fish-eating raptor species associated with aquatic ecosystems, were listed as endangered in Illinois in 1977 and downgraded to threatened in 2020. Nationwide, osprey population increase and range expansion have occurred since the banning of DDT and other persistent organochlorine pesticides, and through recovery efforts such as hacking. Although the first osprey hacking program in the U.S. started back in 1979, Illinois did not begin hacking ospreys until 2013 in central Illinois. To this date, the Illinois hacked ospreys have come from three source populations, with the majority from Chesapeake Bay and Westport River. In 2019, Illinois began collaborating with Mass Audubon’s South Coast Osprey Project (SCOP) in acquiring the chicks from its breeding population along Westport River. SCOP monitors 100 nests in the Westport River population where the number of breeding pairs has exceeded the availability of nest platforms locally. In Illinois the statewide number of breeding osprey pairs has increased from 17 in 2013 to 50 in 2021 based on confirmed nesting attempts, with the majority of the pairs located in Cook and collar counties in northern Illinois. Despite the availability of nest platforms in those areas, about an equal number of the osprey nests were still built on cell towers and utility poles as opposed to nest platforms. A fast growing number of osprey pairs have used cell towers since 2019. All these suggest that ospreys have the potential to become a nuisance in the northern, populated region of the state. Thus, the hacking program in rural central Illinois is important for the statewide recovery of ospreys in establishing self-sustaining breeding populations.
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