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North Fork Animal Welfare League rescues Osprey in Cutchogue

When North Fork Animal Welfare League executive director Gillian Wood Pultz received a report Monday about an osprey floundering in the middle of Wickham Creek in Cutchogue, her initial thought was that it had become tangled in fishing wire. That’s usually the case. 

But when she arrived at the shoreline, she saw something unique in her two decades of rescuing animals: an osprey with its toe caught in a large clam.

“When I saw the clam, I thought, ‘How did this happen?’ı” Ms. Wood Pultz recalled in an interview Tuesday, adding that this is the first clam-related animal injury she’s encountered.

When asked if she might guess how the bird got caught, Ms. Wood Pultz said perhaps the clam was open at one point and closed onto the osprey’s toe.

Ms. Wood Pultz said NFAWL acts as a first responder for animal emergency calls. After arriving at a scene, NFAWL personnel assess the situation and either immediately transport an injured animal to North Fork Animal Hospital in Southold or call the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons to handle the emergency.

Ms. Wood Pultz said she got a call around 1:30 p.m. Monday from Deborah Doty, an NFAWL adopter, who spotted the struggling osprey from her kayak.

By the time she arrived, the bird was near the shoreline and weighed down by the clam, which she described as “the size of a fist.”

Elizabeth Rolison Courtesy Photos

Ms. Wood Pultz said nearby resident Tom Wacker came to help, bringing out a long crab net that they used to catch the bird. Once she restrained the osprey by grabbing hold of its beak and feet, Mr. Wacker used scissors to release the clam.

“No crying, no noise, no real struggle,” Ms. Wood Pultz said when asked if the bird put up a fight. “No lacerations on the toe and it didn’t look broken.”

She doesn’t know the osprey’s gender and, based on its size, believes it’s fairly young. After it was freed, Ms. Wood Pultz told Mr. Wacker to call her if the bird didn’t fly away within 20 minutes.

As she started to leave a few minutes later, the bird flew off.

“I was extremely pleased,” she said. “It was a good ending.”

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