‘It breaks my heart:’ Osprey dies following exhaustive rescue effort

News13 Digital First

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – After an exhaustive rescue effort, the osprey who got stuck in the netting at Topgolf is dead.

The bird passed away while in transit to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue. The group, which is located outside of Charlotte, NC, cited Exertional Myopathy as the baby bird’s cause of death.

Kimberly Cerimele is a local wildlife responder who led the 10 hour-long rescue effort that ended early Tuesday morning.

“We kind of expected this outcome,” Cerimele said. “But we didn’t want to leave it hanging out here all night with a certain death.”

Cerimele arrived on the scene after being alerted to the situation on Facebook. She’s well-known locally for responding to animals in need, so several people had tagged her in posts about the osprey.

When she got to Topgolf, she found the bird 140 feet in the air. And when first-responders couldn’t reach him, she began making phone calls.

“We started calling every business possible to see if we could get a crane to go at least 120 feet,” she said.

The crane cost $3,000, a bill that Topgolf footed. That’s a price Cerimele says was necessary to pay to help the osprey.

“There was no chance this bird would have gotten out on itself,” she said. “It was dehydrated definitely. It’s a high-stress bird. so it got really stressed out it was flapping its wings. Unfortunately, its talons were completely wrapped up.”

By around 2 a.m., the bird was finally retrieved.

“We were able to cut the net, get its talons untangled and bring the bird through the net,” she explained. “When I had the bird in my arms, and knew we were good, I mean it was just a huge relief that this whole situation was done. this bird was not struggling anymore.”

It’s been a tough day for Cerimele, though, since the bird died.

“It breaks my heart, honestly,” Cerimele said. “How long this bird had been out here struggling hanging upside down with one foot. I mean I was in tears especially when we realized we might have to walk away and not be able to save it.”

News13 asked a local veterinarian what to do should you happen upon an injured animal.

“Best case scenario, just call animal control,” Dr. Isabelle Ying said. She works at Myrtle Beach Animal Hospital. “They will go and handle them appropriately. You don’t want to get injured and you don’t want to hurt them more.”

Still, questions remain about whether or not changes should be made at Topgolf.

“The way birds eyes work as they’re flying, they can’t see the net,” Paul Laurent said. He’s a naturalist working for Black River Outdoors. “The big thing is to increase the visibility of it so the birds can see its a solid object and go around it. “

While Cerimele agrees visibility should increase, she also thinks there should be mechanisms put in place to help when a bird gets stuck.

“I think they need to incorporate a pulley system or they need to gave equipment on hand to handle these situations,” she said.

Carolina Waterfowl offered this statement on the matter:

“We are incredibly sad to report that the osprey from top golf in Myrtle Beach died in transport. The cause of death is Capture/exertional Myopathy.
That is why we stress the importance of getting in quickly because animals cannot hang upside down and struggle for long periods of time. This is why animals die from stress or exertion when they’re on glue traps or trapped in netting like this.
It’s so unfortunate after all of the effort that was made by rescuers to get this bird down that he didn’t make it. We have good days and bad days. Today’s a bad day.”

Morgan Schaaf, Communications Manager for Topgolf Entertainment Group, told News13 the company is looking to implement new ways to protect wildlife.

“We were heartbroken to learn that the osprey later died after being freed from the nets at our Myrtle Beach venue. As part of our commitment to providing a safe environment for the entire community, we will be evaluating improvements, alongside local experts, to better protect the wildlife surrounding this venue. We are also continuing discussions with Carolina Waterfowl Rescue on how we can support South Carolina’s wildlife in the future.”

Myrtle Beach police says it hasn’t responded to a bird stuck in a Topgolf net before, although birds have flown within the netted area before. They were able to escape on their own.

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