Bird specialist hopes to make event an annual affair
By KAREN MADDEN
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune
Monday, July 26, 2004
ROME - Minutes after raptor rehabilitation specialist Marge Gibson released a 3-year-old male bald eagle on Sunday, plans were being made for taking care of other birds and another eagle release next year.
Gibson released the eagle at the point by the Lure Bar. Rome officials and Lure Bar owners Joan and Tom Koren planned a nature celebration around its release.
"It was exciting," said 7-year-old Trent Martin of Wisconsin Rapids. "I've never seen an eagle so close before. It flew right over my head."
Although Sunday's eagle release was not the first in the Rome area, it was the first that was turned into a nature celebration with crafters and a chain-saw demonstration in which an eagle was carved and raffled off to raise money for the Raptor Education Group Inc. facility in Antigo. The raffle raised $1,000, said Rome Town Chairman Steve Nowicki.
"It's a wonderful event," Nowicki said. "If you'd like to see this happen again, we need your support."
Gibson said she was pleased to see the crowd of about 300 gather for the eagle release. It's especially nice to see the children involved in the celebration, she said.
Colleen Kane of Ra-cine spends most weekends in the Rome area. She also supports the Raptor Education Group. It's a way to help, as well as an educational experience for the children, Kane said.
"We've been involved with the eagle release for some time," Kane said.
The 3-year-old eagle was brought to the Raptor Education Group from the Sauk City area on Jan. 18. Like many eagles in that area, it suffered from a mysterious toxin problem. The bird was anemic, had minor convulsions and seizures and was unable to fly. After seven months, however, it was ready to return to the wild.
While Gibson was celebrating the release of one bird, she also was worrying about three more. On Saturday evening, she received an osprey that had been shot and a red-tailed hawk that was starving. On Sunday, a Rome resident gave her a heron found on Lake Camelot with a fishing hook caught in its neck and lure tangled in its mouth. "It needs attention right away," Gibson said.
Gibson accepts anything with wings and feathers, including hummingbirds, she said. When finding an injured bird, carefully pick it up with a towel and place it in a cardboard box, Gibson said. Any kind of a wire cage will injure its wings. Make sure the box has air holes. The Raptor Education Group has 170 birds right now, Gibson said. The group does not get state or federal funding to help the birds. It relies on donations.
Gibson hopes the nature celebration and eagle release in Rome will become an annual event. Town Clerk Terri Anderson was already setting a tentative date with Gibson for next year.