Close-up look at raptors fascinates LCSC crowd
By Abigail Wix
Foto News reporter
April 3, 2002
We want to create a broader understanding of native birds and their habitat needs among the public and scientific community and create a safe haven for injured wildlife while they heal until they are ready to be released back into the wild, quotes the goal statement of Antigo-based Raptor Education Group Inc., (REGI), who was welcomed by the Lincoln County Sports Club March 28.
Don and Marge Gibson founded REGI in 1990. Since then, over 6000 raptors and other avian species have been patients at the wildlife center.
REGI is a non-profit organization, Marge Gibson said. We are a rehabilitation center where orphaned native birds come to recover from injury. They become injured through a number of ways, some have been hit by cars, shot, flew into windows, or a common misfortune has been poison. At this time, we have 18 bald eagles from Sauk Prairie that had been poisoned, the third incident since 1994. The poison is still unknown, but it appears to only affect bald eagles. We help all types of birds, however, from eagles and trumpeter swans to robins and hummingbirds.
Marge has worked with wildlife for over 30 years, beginning work with raptors as a field biologist. She has worked with the California Condor Recovery Team and been team captain for the Bald Eagle Capture and Health Assessment Program in Valdez. Don is a recently retired M.D. with a specialty in pathology.
In addition to wildlife recovery, REGI is also dedicated to public education on wildlife issues.
We have two goals. First, to create a safe haven for injured wildlife while they heal and until they are ready to be released back into the wild, explained Marge. Second, to create a broader understanding of native birds and their habitat needs among the public and scientific community.
The organization provides medical treatment, food, housing, and professional care for the recovering birds. They also perform research for behavioral, nutritional, and post release studies to contribute knowledge for wild birds all over the world.
Our education focus provides adults and children with understanding and awareness of the environment, the wild ones we share it with, and preserving their habitat, noted Marge. We do not charge fees for our services, and we do not receive state or federal funds for this work. We must rely on donations from private donors.
Accompanying Gibson and her husband to the Sports Club were 6 unique species of birds.
Included were an 11-year-old red-tailed hawk from California recovering from a gunshot wound, a 2-year old great horned owl whose diet needs had been neglected by his owner, a turkey vulture rescued from a fire in Adams who now suffers lack of lung capacity from smoke inhalation, a saw-whet owl, and a 3-year old female bald eagle from Minnesota who is with REGI for education purposes.
Raptors are extremely intelligent creatures. Their social structure is a lot like ours, they are long-lived and mate for life, Marge said.
For more information about REGI or to become a member, volunteer, or contribute a donation, contact REGI at 623-4015 or www.raptoreducationgroup.org.