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Osprey freed from Topgolf Myrtle Beach netting dies. Company vows to consider remedies

A preview of the new Topgolf Myrtle Beach

The media was given a tour and preview Wednesday of Topgolf Myrtle Beach, which will open Friday on the corner of Robert Grissom Parkway and 29th Ave. North in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
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The media was given a tour and preview Wednesday of Topgolf Myrtle Beach, which will open Friday on the corner of Robert Grissom Parkway and 29th Ave. North in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

An osprey that was freed from high netting at Topgolf Myrtle Beach late Monday night died on Tuesday afternoon.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue said on Twitter the cause of death was capture/exertional myopathy – the overexertion of muscles due to a struggle from capture.

The bird of prey was caught in the netting for more than eight hours, according to eyewitnesses, and was freed late Monday after several hours of unsuccessful attempts.

A local crane company was enlisted to free the bird and it was thought to be healthy enough to survive. Topgolf communications manager Morgan Schaaf noted Tuesday morning the osprey was being monitored and cared for by a wildlife expert as a precaution before its release back to the wild, but it died in transport to a medical facility, according to Carolina Waterfowl Rescue, which stressed the importance of a quick rescue.

“We were heartbroken to learn that the osprey later died after being freed from the nets at our Myrtle Beach venue,” Schaaf said in an email Tuesday. “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 Fire Dept. crews were the first to attempt extrication but suspended efforts at about 11 p.m. Monday and left the property.

According to Myrtle Beach Fire Lieutenant Bob Vlasaty, crews used a 105-foot ladder and an additional 12-foot pole but were unable to reach the bird.

“Unfortunately there’s nothing else we could have done,” Vlasaty said. “We attempted to get up there to see what we could do to help free the bird, unfortunately we ended up too short.”

Topgolf called in wildlife experts as well as police and fire to assist in the freeing of the bird before the crane was required.

Play was stopped at Topgolf on Monday night while police and fire crews were attempting to save the bird, and guests watched helplessly as the bird would occasionally flail and flap its wings attempting to free itself.

A Topgolf employee said hawks and ospreys often use the posts and netting while preying on smaller birds and other prey in and around the Topgolf complex before the facility gets busy.

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Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina athletics and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a sports reporter at The Sun News since 1993, earning eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 18 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.
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