- People can now visit a world renowned wildlife rehabilitation center in Antigo.
The Raptor Education Group has about 300 patients right now.Some of them will never fully recover, and will become education ambassadors.
Visitors today met some of these ambassadors, and a special patient, whose illness bears an important message.
"Right now we have 27 bald eagles, eight trumpeter swans, 17 sandhill cranes, and then many owls and hawks," says Marge Gibson, Executive Director of REGI.
People are getting an opportunity to learn about the birds of prey in the Northwoods.
"It's the first time we've been here and we're almost 80 years old but it's something to see," says Herb Nelson, from Wausau.
Tours at the Raptor Education Group not only allow visitors to get an up close look at some of nature's greatest creatures, but the tour also teaches visitors about some of the hazards humans pose to them.
"This is a common loon, a male. He was flown down from the Apostle islands about a week ago. At first he was showing botulism poisoning. He also had severe lead poisoning. The X-Ray showed two sinkers in his gizzard," says Gibson.
It was so bad regular treatment wasn't working. When they realized they had nothing to lose, they tried an experimental procedure that's only been done three times before in the entire country.
"I was always observing his breath, his heartbeat. So yeah, we had some troubles but we achieved it," says Aysegul Karaahmetoglu, a visiting Veterinarian from Turkey.
The procedure worked, and the loon is almost ready to be sent back out into the wild. But he's an important reminder for sportsmen to be mindful of the effect they have on wildlife.
"Hunting season is coming and a very good option is to use the copper bullets. You may have to ask for them or actually request that they be ordered. We went to buy sinkers and we bought 100 for eight dollars that were non-lead. And the lead sinkers were 100 for six dollars. So it's not a huge cost differential and it makes such a huge difference for wildlife," says Gibson.
REGI has been in Antigo for 24 years, and will keep working to counteract the negative effects humans can have on the environment.
"About 98% of the cases that we have are human caused. So I always feel that because they're human caused it really is a human responsibility to try to recover them and try to get them back into the wild where they belong," says Gibson.
REGI is funded by private donations and a few grants every year. They're always looking for volunteers. You don't have to work with the big birds-- they need all kinds of skills: carpenters, yardwork, painting, cleaning, etc. Please call 715-623-2563
For more information please see the links below.
REGI Blog- Follow the Patients Progress