Governor Doyle visit for the birds
Hundreds expected to attend release of eagles in Rome
By MARK SCARBOROUGH
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
ROME - Gov. Jim Doyle will celebrate Earth Day a few days late when he releases an adult male bald eagle Thursday afternoon at the Lure Bar & Grill at Barnum Bay Marina.
Organizers of the event had hoped to release the raptor at 3:30 p.m., but the governor's staff anticipates Doyle will arrive at about 4 p.m. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the second-annual eagle release at the bar, according to Tom Koren, co-owner of the Lure with his wife, Joan. The first eagle release there was April 21 last year.
Nursed back to health by volunteers working with Antigo's Raptor Education Group Inc., the male eagle Doyle will help release was banded June 9, 1989, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The injured bird was found near death on Rib Mountain last year, according to Marge Gibson, director of the Antigo group. The bird was found by a Wausau-area couple.
"Releasing a bald eagle is such a special thing," Gibson said. "On an emotional level, it's just amazing. There's something magnificent about returning a bird like this to the wild where it belongs."
Other, immature bald eagles are expected to be released Saturday at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. during a fund-raising event for the Antigo organization, Koren and Gibson said. Raffles and other prizes will be awarded then, while donations will also be accepted. Tax-deductible gifts can also be sent to Raptor Education Group Inc., P.O. Box 481, Antigo WI 54409.
The group, established in 1990, "does not receive one penny from the state or federal governments," Gibson said. Currently, Raptor Education Group is nursing 18 eagles "in various stages of rehabilitation, recovering from things like being poisoned by lead to being hit by cars," Gibson said. "It's so good to see them released. That's the reason I do this kind of work - to see the eagles successful. It's so energizing for me to see these big wings spread and see them fly off."
The bald eagle, the symbol of America, was threatened with extinction in the 1960s due to pesticide use and loss of habitat. For years, the bird was listed as "endangered" by the federal government. Thanks to increased numbers of eagles in the wild, however, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service downgraded this designation to "threatened" in 1994.
Gibson has 35 years of experience as a field biologist. "I have a natural affinity for feathers," she said.
Tom Koren, who plans to support the group's work each year with an eagle release, loves to watch the birds return to nature. "It's such a great thing," he said.
The first Earth Day was held April 22, 1970, at the urging of then U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wisconsin.
Lure Bar & Grill is located at 1735 Archer Lane in Rome.