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Wildlife group seeing increase in bald eagles, birds being shot

Posted at 11:54 AM, Feb 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 12:54:37-05

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) - Two bald eagles were shot in northern Wisconsin within the last few weeks, and have died. It's a federal crime, punishable by a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

The Raptor Education Group in Antigo, who took in the eagles, said shootings of bald eagles, loons and trumpeter swans, seem to be increasing. Marge Gibson, the founder of the group, said in 2019 they took in 25 shot birds out of about 900 patients. Gibson adding, the numbers seem to be higher than when they used to have the “occasional unwise person.”

The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay has taken in birds that have been shot before. While it’s been a few years, curator Lori Bankson said it’s disheartening to learn about the recent events.

The sanctuary takes in more than 100 injured birds of prey a year; many including eagles. They just had a few come in not too long ago for various injuries and are healing. They were not shot and the sanctuary is hoping to release them within the next few months, just in time for nesting season.

Bankson said while they haven’t had to care for many shooting injuries lately, it can be an intense situation.

"In the first few weeks when you have a bird that’s shot, its very touch and go,” she said.

"Besides really seeing if that bone is broken or if there’s any open wound, it’s just supportive care. When these, especially large birds of prey come into our hands, we're always seen as a predator. So stress is always an issue. We want to make sure the animal is getting proper nutrients, but also making sure they have the right fluids so they don't go into shock."

The sanctuary is currently caring for several birds. She adds that song birds are the most injured ones they take in. Again, she adds healing and releasing is their main goal. The sanctuary also works with the Gentle Vet Animal Hospital.

If you know of an injured animal, the sanctuary's phone line is always open. Gibson adds, if you know of someone who is acting illegally, like shooting an eagle, you're asked to report it.

"A lot of people we know that are hunters are very responsible and are great stewards of the wild and of wildlife,” Bankson added. “To hear this happen, its rough because sometimes provides a bad name for people who really love to be outside."

The Department of Fish and Wildlife Service is currently investigating the recent deaths of the two eagles in Wisconsin.