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Airborne fish sparks New Jersey power outage, electricity company says

Posted at 8:09 PM, Aug 19, 2023

SAYREVILLE, N.J. (CNN) — An incident involving a bird gave new meaning to the term “fish fry” after an electric company suspected an osprey of dropping its meal onto power lines – triggering an outage in a New Jersey neighborhood.

A fish that fell from a bird’s grip landed on a transponder in Sayreville, located just southwest of New York’s Staten Island, according to Jersey Central Power and Light Company spokesperson Chris Hoenig.

“Animal contact is a common cause of power outages; however, fish are not on the list of frequent offenders,” Hoenig told CNN in an email.

The outage on August 12 impacted around 2,100 people and lasted less than two hours.

The Sayreville Police Department poked fun at the incident on Facebook, naming the deceased fish as Gilligan and pointing a finger at an osprey as “the suspect,” which was “last seen flying south,” the post read.

“Please let us not forget the victim in this senseless death,” the police department’s post said. “Gilligan was a hard-working family man. He was a father to thousands of children.”

Anyone with information on the case was asked to contact “Det. John Silver, who handles all of our fish cases,” according to the post.

The electric company offered its sympathies to the osprey for losing its lunch over Sayreville.

“If you’ve ever dropped your ice cream cone at the fair, you know the feeling,” Hoenig said, adding that the company appreciated customers’ patience as power was restored.

The Sayreville area has a large presence of ospreys, which were on the endangered species list in New Jersey until less than a decade ago, according to Hoenig.

“We have a very active osprey and raptor protection program, which includes surveying and monitoring nests and following strict protocols in relocating osprey nests that are located on our equipment or too close to power lines,” he said.

The 2022 New Jersey Osprey Project Survey and Census documented 733 nesting pairs of the birds across the state, according to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.