A 22-year-old employee of a floating museum off Key West has been cited with a second-degree misdemeanor in the shooting of an osprey with a pellet gun.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Josiah Fetzer admitted to shooting at the bird in an attempt to get it off the mast of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham Maritime Museum, a retired Coast Guard ship moored at the Truman Waterfront on Key West Harbor.
The bird "was struck and spiraled to the ground," according to FWC Officer Robert Dube. Key West Wildlife Center staff picked it up and took it to the Marathon Veterinary Hospital where it underwent surgery for a broken wing.
Bill Verge, director of the museum, told flkeysnews.com that the shooting was a "freak accident" and that the museum's policy was not to use guns to scare off birds.
The bird was returned to the Key West Wildlife Center on Wednesday for rehabilitation.
"Now we're at the cross-your-fingers stage," said Peggy Coontz, director of animal care at the center. "Hopefully, he's a good patient."
Ospreys can be "tricky" in captivity, she said.
"Some of them take kindly to being handed a fish and some of them you hand them a fish, and they regard it as a foreign object," she said Wednesday afternoon. "So far, this one has not eaten a meal on its own yet but it's still very early for that. Sometime tomorrow we'll know if he's going to be a cooperative patient or a not-cooperative patient."
If all goes well, the plan is to take the bird back to the veterinary hospital in two weeks for X-rays. The ultimate goal is release back to the wild.
Ospreys, also known as "fish hawks," can be seen throughout Florida and the country. They are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Act. The state considers them a species of special concern in Monroe County. Coastal southern Florida is believed to have the state's only year-round resident, as opposed to migratory, population.
Fetzer is due in county court for arraignment Sept. 7.