- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Workers in Missoula have made a high-profile osprey nest atop a pole next to a baseball park goose-proof in an effort to avoid the kind of drama that developed last spring.

The Missoulian reports (http://bit.ly/1n5Rf5C) a metal mesh cone has been placed over the nest to prevent a Canada goose named Clara from setting up housekeeping like she did last year before the osprey couple returned from migration.

University of Montana biologist Erick Greene and Garden City Tree Service owner Dale Beavers attached the metal cone Friday atop the pole near Ogren-Allegiance Park.

“(Geese) have, like, a three-week advantage over the ospreys,” said Heiko Langer, a geoscientist at the university who helped with the project Friday. “They would establish themselves and lay their eggs and wouldn’t give up their nest.”

Last year, Clara beat the ospreys to the nest and wouldn’t leave, successfully raising her own brood. The nest is just past the outfield of the baseball field where a minor league baseball team called the Missoula Osprey play. They are affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“This was such a high-profile nest,” Greene said. “And there were so many (people) upset and letters to the Missoulian.”

The ospreys tried building new nests, but they were blown out of a tree, shooed away from a bank of lights and evicted from a crane and a power pole.

“It was so much,” Greene said. “People were getting really upset.”

The ospreys eventually ended up nesting atop a 100-kilovolt power line. NorthWestern Energy workers kept the nest trimmed to prevent the birds from being electrocuted.

The osprey couple is expected back in Missoula in the next few weeks, and by then it’s believed Clara will have already picked out another nest site.

When the ospreys are spotted, Greene plans to remove the mesh cone over the nest.

“I suspect (the ospreys) will come back and take it over right away,” Langer said.

Geese have already been roaming about on the baseball field, which remains partially covered in snow. But it’s unclear if Clara is among them.

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Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com