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Raptor Education Group, Inc. helps explain the importance of keeping wildlife wild. Submitted: 04/21/2015

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ANTIGO - The people of the North County treasure the wildlife that surrounds us.

But in order for there to be wildlife, it needs to be kept wild.

Raptor Education Group, INC. in Antigo helps in trying to keep wildlife wild.

"Taking it into captive care and raising it yourself is just a disaster waiting to happen," said Executive Director of Raptor Education Group, INC. Marge Gibson.

The DNR says that "most of the time, leaving a baby animal where it's found is helping". That's because you risk imprinting the animal IF you take it home.


"Imprinting means that it is raised so it thinks and is hardwired its human. So you can't change that," Gibson said. "We can't for instance make it have a good experience in the wild than it becomes wild magically."

"Now we have an adult turkey that will never be able to be released to the wild," Gibson said."He thinks he's a human. He courts women, human women, and chases human men out of his territory."

A bald eagle that is currently at Raptor Education Group, INC. was imprinted by a human. Because he wasn't raised by Bald Eagles he doesn't have the correct vocalization or behavior to survive in the wild. Fortunately Raptor Education Group does have Foster Parents for infant birds that are dropped off at REGI after being rescued.

"We have a male gray horned owl who raises our orphans every single year and we supply food and he does everything else," Gibson said. "So when they're released or when they grow up they are indeed owls and they know who they are and they have the vocalization that he teaches them."

The owls can then be a part of the wild. If you ever have any doubts about a baby wild animal that may be injured or orphaned call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator like Raptor Education Group or call the DNR.

It is also important to not disrupt the animal's natural diet.

For example, not feeding bread to geese.

"It's not a natural diet for them and it does affect their growth," Director of Rehabilitation Raptor Education Group, INC Audrey Gossett said. "We have several geese here who have angel wing. That's when the tips of their wings fallout so they are no longer able to fly. They are not releasable."

Angel Wing shows the impact that humans have on wildlife when they feed them.
Some of the affects can't be reversed.

"Once they are developed in that way we cannot fix it," Gossett said. "If they come in when they are young then we are able to tape their wings in a certain way once we feed them the proper nutrition. Then we can fix that issue but now that they are full-grown we can't release them to the wild."


Story By: Nolan Blair

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