Rare Horned Grebe Escapes Apprehension by City of Antigo Police Department! (As well as Entanglement in Reeds).
We often work with law enforcement. Usually the cases are those of shootings, poisonings or other illegal activity that involves migratory native birds, protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It was therefore especially good to work with our local City of Antigo Police Department on a happy case with a terrific ending.
We received an after hours call from Langlade County Dispatch concerning what was through to be a duck caught up in a small bunch of reeds in the middle of Antigo Lake. Citizens were concerned but getting to it was going to be a challenge in the icy water some distance from shore. Officer Kyle Schilling responded. We met at the bridge that overlooked the site. Binoculars were needed to assess the situation. Officer Schilling just happens to have a degree in Wildlife Conservation Law Enforcement and identified the bird as a Horned Grebe, not a duck!
The Horned Grebe is a species listed federally as in significant decline and very rare in Wisconsin. This bird may still migrate north to breed, however, there has been one record of breeding in our own Langlade County in 1998! It's presence in Antigo will cause much excitement with state biologists and birders alike.
We do not have a boat at REGI, the lake, while very shallow, is still opening from winter ice. Neighbors were gathering, public concern was growing for the little stuck grebe. The Antigo Police Dept. mobilized came through with flying colors! Dispatcher, Lindsey Steger, was at the end of her shift. She raced home to get her kayak. Officer Schilling wasted no time getting the kayak into the water and was off to help the rare bird out of its predicament.
The Horned Grebe however was not about to be apprehended by the police! Just as Officer Schilling reached the clump of reeds, the grebe made an impressive deep dive that grebes are known for, escaping the entanglement as well as law enforcement.
All well that end well. Our gratitude to the great neighbors that keep watch over the lake and its wildlife and our own City of Antigo Police Department for responding so quickly to citizens’ concerns. The fact this bird is rare and a State of WI bird of Special Concern, was frosting on the cake to the event. Our gratitude to our own hometown heroes. Sometimes heroes wear badges. Sometimes heroes are caring citizens with big hearts and an understanding of how vital wildlife is in our world. Thank you again to Patrolman Kyle Schilling, Dispatcher Lindsey Steger and the super neighborhood of caring folks.