One of the attractive aspects about living on Daniel Island is the abundance of nature the residents get to enjoy. But sometimes the local wildlife can be caught in dangerous circumstances caused by the proximity of human neighbors.
That’s when local experts are called in to help and the rest of us can learn some important lessons on being better “nature neighbors.”
It’s not every day that Chris Hamil, field operations manager for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association, engages problem-solving skills to free a hawk entwined in a branch with fishing line. But in January 2021, Hamil was called to Smythe Park to do just that. A resident reported seeing a hawk in distress in a bed of trees at the park, just over the footbridge. When Hamil arrived, he saw the bird close to the top of the tree, about 30 feet up. Further assessment revealed that something was amiss — a fishing line was tangled around the hawk’s wing and then looped around the tree limb, trapping the bird as it tried to fly out. The tree was too tall to be scaled using standard equipment, and at 5 p.m. on a weekend, options for rescue were limited.
Hamil reached out to P.O. Mead, owner of Mead Land Services and long-time, dedicated arborist. Mead and his team are solely responsible for the week-to-week maintenance of all of Daniel Island’s trees that inhabit and enhance the common areas. Within 30 minutes,
Mead arrived on site, equipped with a harness and safety gear, and traversed up the tree as darkness approached. He was able to grab the hawk, cut the fishing line, and free the bird.
Mead’s stellar reputation and willingness to go above and beyond “speaks volumes about the relationships we have with our partners and contractors,” Hamil noted. He said that Mead is also the first one in the field after hurricanes and other emergencies to assess damages.
Jane Baker, president of the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association, added, “P.O. Mead is much more than just another vendor or contractor for the Daniel Island POA. He is a consummate professional and we consider him a dedicated team member and colleague.
He and his family have worked on Daniel Island since its first days of development. Included in the many projects he has been responsible for, he is also a first responder for Daniel Island whenever there is a crisis. We are indebted to him for his stewardship of the island over the last 25 years.”
HOW HELP BIRDS ON DI
When a hawk or other type of bird is struggling in a POA common area on Daniel Island, residents should contact field operations first at 843-971-4405.
If a bird is trapped or injured on private property, it’s up to the homeowner to reach out for assistance. Depending on the circumstances, the City of Charleston, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR), or an independent contractor can help. The Center for the Birds of Prey, located in Awendaw, is also a valuable local resource.
Stephen Schabel, director of education at the center, said, “I think the best initial step when a bird is in trouble would be to call our dispatch line at 843-971-7474. Our dispatchers are trained to assist in assessing the situation and talking the presenter through any next steps.”
Schabel continued, “We have a volunteer transport staff that can assist in capture and transport when necessary. While we only treat raptors and water birds, we can help presenters find assistance for birds of any kind. Ultimately, in order to provide treatment for an injured animal, we must first safely capture it which most often involves covering it with a towel or blanket and collecting it with some thick gloves and getting it into a dark, quiet place (generally a cardboard box). This is something that many if not most presenters are able to accomplish with some support from our dispatch crew.”
Visit DNR’s website for a directory of contractors who assist with wildlife issues at dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/control.html.