The Montana Osprey Cam is located in Missoula Montana. Missoula is located along the Clark Fork River, just downstream from one of the largest Superfund sites in the country. (A Superfund site is an area where toxic wastes have accumulated and the Environmental Protection Agency has stated the area should be cleaned up). For more than 100 years, heavy-metal contaminants from mining operations have accumulated behind an upstream dam (Milltown Dam). These contaminants include mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, zinc and copper. This dam has now been removed and has greatly affected the ecosystem downstream of it, Missoula.
How does this effect Osprey? As top predators that feed almost exclusively on fish, Ospreys serve as biological indicators of the health of the aquatic systems they feed from. By monitoring the health of local populations of these raptors, scientists can gauge the level of contaminants present in the watershed.
RaptorView has been monitoring these Osprey populations for four years, accessing 36 nests and sampling and banding 111 nestlings. Please visit their webpage for more information and to see how you can help continue this critical research. Current research on this project not only helps us to protect the local Osprey population, but by determining the level of contaminants still present in the water, scientists can establish when the Clark Fork River will be safe for humans and other wildlife as well.