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Remote signal leads to lost osprey

DWR sensitive species biologist Tyrell Mills holds the recovered satellite transmitter and a handful of osprey feathers.

Sun Advocate associate editor

An osprey that was probably on its way to Mexico from Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming never reached its migratory goal.

It met its end in Dry Canyon, an offshoot Nine Mile Canyon in Carbon County, last October.

The date is fairly certain because that is when the Argos Satellite transmitter it was wearing went dead. The place is exactly certain because in March, when the snow began to melt, the solar-powered transmitter recharged and began sending signals again.

Researchers at Craighead Beringia South, a non-profit wildlife organization based in Wyoming, asked for some help from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

As a courtesy to fellow professionals, two DWR biologists agreed to go on search.

"The GPS coordinates they gave us led us almost exactly to the spot," said Anthony Wright, a sensitive species biologist with DWR. Wright and his colleague Tyrell Mills spent a few hours in the steep terrain with an antenna and found what they were after. "It was just feathers and scattered bones," said Wright.

However, they also found the transmitter, which is worth about $4,000 new.

"Argos satellite transmitters are used for worldwide tracking of polar bears, killer whales, critters that travel long distances, and are quite different than what you would put on a sage grouse or a deer," Wright explained.

It is a mystery why this particular bird came down in Dry Canyon. Ospreys are fish eaters and live around big bodies of water. Wright said that they will use thermals around cliff sides to get lift during their migrations.

Birds originating at Grand Teton have been tracked as far away as Mexico, Cuba and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

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