"Nature is not Disney World", bird charity says, as it defends decision not to help sick Osprey chicks

Katie Morley
Social media trolls sent the Dyfi Osprey Project, a small charity based in Wales, a stream of vitriolic messages accusing it of cruelty for not helping the struggling baby birds - Supplied by WENN.com

A bird charity has been forced defended itself by reminding people that nature "is not Disney World", after being bombarded with criticism over an internet live stream of sick Osprey chicks. 

Responding to the video, social media trolls sent the Dyfi Osprey Project, a small charity based in Wales, a stream of vitriolic messages accusing it of cruelty for not helping the struggling baby birds.

One of the charity's top ringers, who had decades of experience, has quit as a result of the comments.  The project said decisions over what to do about the chicks were based solely on what is deemed to be the best course of action at that time for the Osprey and its family members.

Project manager Emyr Evans, said: "All of us involved working full time with wildlife make decisions daily based on our qualifications, experiences and knowledge.

We do not have 'Intervention Policies'. "Decisions are made during times of adversity based solely on one criterion only, what is the best course of action, right now, for that osprey and its family members.

At the first sign of a limp or a cough, we can't simply scramble people together and climb a 100 foot tree or ladder up to a 40 foot platform.

These actions have consequences on all sorts of other things such as the other birds concerned, legally, and the safety of the people involved." According to the charity 2016 was a year in which its Osprey's "luck started to run out". One bird called "Dai Dot" was displaced at his Mid Wales nest by another male, and was photographed a few weeks later at with a possible injury to his right wing.

Following this a number of eggs ended up not hatching, which the charity claims has "hardly ever happened before". Injured chicks were also found in nests, but the charity said it could not intervene as doing so would have "deleteriously" affected the other birds in the nest.

However the decision sparked outrage among social media users. Mr Evans said: "There was no other way. This isn’t Disney World - we can't magic these birds and teleport them to some 'rehab centre' somewhere and hope everything will be alright."

Osprey are fish-eating birds of prey with wing spans of more than a metre across which were once commonplace across the UK. However there are now just 300 breeding pairs of Ospreys across the UK.

In a blog post Mr Evans describes species' ability to thrive as a combination of survival of the fittest and luck.

He said: "We have all heard of 'survival of the fittest'. It was actually English philosopher Herbert Spencer, and not Darwin, who first coined the phrase 'survival of the fittest' and it is a phrase that is not normally used by evolutionary biologists today for several reasons.

"Basically, and despite having that catchphrase quality we all like, it fails to describe satisfactorily many of the principles involved in natural selection.

"Yes, evolution favours the fittest, but also the luckiest. Natural selection has zero regard for that next chick-murdering storm brewing over the Atlantic, nor for that Douglas fir branch that's so rotten it will give way the next time a wren lands on it, let alone an 2kg osprey."

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