One of the first signs of spring is the anticipated return of the ospreys. Ospreys fly thousands of miles from their winter home, some as far south as Argentina, once again to breed and raise their chicks.

Several organizations like the “New Jersey Osprey Project” work to manage and protect the osprey population. With the help of volunteers they build and install platforms so the ospreys have a place to build their nests when they return. Ospreys’ nesting areas are found very close to water since their main food source is fish.

Ospreys almost became extinct in our area. The spreading of pesticides contaminated their food source, which weakened the ability of their chicks to hatch. Work was needed to ensure this wouldn’t happen. First the pesticide DDT was banned and the spreading of other pesticides needed to be addressed. Conservationists worked at restoring their population by introducing healthy, breeding pairs of ospreys, eggs and chicks back to the area. The project worked and we now have a flourishing population.

The osprey scenario is a good representation of how humans influence the environment. The spreading of harmful chemicals has far ranging consequences that we need to consider. We nearly wiped out a species that has been around for thousands of years. It also shows that by taking corrective measures we were able to correct a tragedy.

There’s something else we need to consider. The ospreys were affected by eating contaminated fish. We eat fish. The chemicals we use, whether to control weeds, insects or manufacturing end up in our soil and waterways. We need to be aware of what we are doing and how we are affecting our environment. Making safe organic choices for our lifestyles should be of serious consideration if we are able to have a sustainable future.

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