I had the great honor of releasing a very special patient! This case is nothing short of a miracle, Many people helped make this success!
The adult female loon shot from in Portage County, critically wounded, found by UWSP personal and transported by REGI volunteer Jeff Konopacky was released into Lake Michigan!
A little over a month ago, the loon was admitted. We were horrified at what the x-rays revealed. The loon, a protected species, had been shot in the head and body at close range. The X-rays were graphic. Five shot were in her head. The others in her neck and body. Her case attracted attention by veterinarians and wildlife professionals across the country.
We were quite certain this was a fatal injury. Humane euthanasia seemed the best option considering the gravity of the injury; however, this patient was exceptional. We evaluated her carefully. She started to swim and eat on her own. She moved normally and behaved in every way like a normal loon. We waited for delayed neurological symptoms, but they never appeared. Our approach at REGI is: “if the patient is willing, we give them a chance".
She surprised us every day with her strength and will, she’d lost a great deal of blood as would be expected with the 8 shots she carried in her body and head, but she fought. Her blood work started to improve.
Her appetite was fantastic. She gained over 2 lbs. while at REGI. We are grateful to the great folks that brought her minnows, Victor and Pat Prezynski and others as well as R.J Hilger's and Sons Baits, of Antigo, our always heroes.
The loon passed every test including vision. She proved herself over and over. She was banded and color banded. If she is ever encountered again, she can be recognize and the researcher notified. Today she was released into Lake Michigan. Why Lake Michigan you ask? This is the area of Lake Michigan where Wisconsin loons go this time of the year as a staging area for their migration. Our now former patient will have a jump on migration.
Sadly, because the perpetrator that shot this loon has not been apprehended, releasing her to her own lake was not a viable possibility. Someone must know or suspect the mindless coward or cowards that shot her. This was not a hunting situation of mis-identification. It was not hunting season and loons are not hunted. I grow weary of people giving a pass to young people that shoot protected species because they are bored. The "boys will be boys" comment is just ridiculous. The fact is, those young people that abuse and injure animals are predators. They grow up to do the same to humans. Animals are a stepping stone to larger prey...people! https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/how-reliably-does-animal…/…
Do the right thing and call or text a tip, anonymous if you wish, to the State of WI DNR Tip Line at 1-800-847-9367. It matters!
Her release was spectacular! All releases are special but never have I seen a loon more excited to see open water that represented her future. She heard the waves before we were at the water’s edge. She jumped out of the carrier and onto the shore before I was ready. In seconds,with great strength and purpose, she moved her body into the waves and was gone. She swam, flapped, preened and dived until she was out of sight. We wish the rest of her life is safe and uneventful. She is living her best life tonight.
Thank you everyone that send her healing energy, thoughts and prayers and minnows too. She did her part, and we did ours, but in this case...I cannot help but feel we all had a little help.