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Hawk nest delays Oshkosh project

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 4:27 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - A restoration project in Oshkosh is being delayed because of nature. The city’s water tower on S. Washburn Street won’t be painted until later this summer.

Viking Industrial Painting, the company contracted to paint the Oshkosh water tower, was prepared to go to work on Thursday. That is, until crews tried to get on to the top of the tower.

According to City Engineer Steve Gohde, “A couple of the workers were essentially dive bombed by some hawks, as it turns out. So, they sent the workers back down in the hatch, back down and after a couple more attempts and getting dive bombed by the birds they contacted us and asked us if there was some way we could get up there to confirm what was going on.”

That’s when the city public works department reached out to the police and asked if the drone team could help out.

“We were able to deploy our drone, go up, look at it relatively easily and quickly, safely, determine what it was, and that information was passed on to, back to the engineering department,” says Sgt. Heath Feavel.

The police department drone team captured what has now been identified as a red tail hawk’s nest, with two babies close to home. An adult hawk was perched nearby -- explaining why those workers were under attack as they tried to get on top of the tower.

For the safety of the birds and the workers, the project is now being delayed several months. “We’re going to push the project back. Contractor is agreeable to start basically September 1 now on the work, and we’ll just have it be a fall project instead of spring project,” says Gohde.

And the city will use this incident as a lesson learned, moving forward, as other water tower projects are scheduled in future years.

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