Officials Investigate the Deaths of Multiple Federally Protected Raptors

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials are searching for whoever is behind the deaths of not one, but four federally protected raptors in Wisconsin. Last month, a male Osprey was taken to the Raptor Education Group in Antigo with a bullet hole in its wing.

Since then, three other birds have shown up with suspicious injuries. Some even leaving behind babies in their nest to either starve or jump to their deaths. Marge Gibson, executive director of Raptor Education Group, said it's usually people who just don't care about nature.

"It's a lack of respect for wildlife, for the laws that protect our wildlife," said Gibson. Wildlife raptors like Osprey and Great Horned Owls are usually impossible to confuse with game birds. They have eagle-like beaks and claws, and usually nest in high places like trees or platforms. Yet these birds are targeted every single year even though they're federally protected.

"I think most people now know that they're protected, and that there will be a big fine or even jail time if they're caught," said Gibson, "But they are doing it for other reasons, you know, some people said that it's a good target. It's big and they just wanted see if they could hit it."

Gibson said she hopes that whoever is behind it all is stopped, before their crimes are taken to a more dangerous level.

"Sometimes people feel if they're doing this birds or with animals... it's easier for them to start doing this to people," said Gibson, "So I'm really hoping that we're able to apprehend the person that did this. So it doesn't escalate."

If you ever notice any suspicious activity around or near a wildlife nest, you can give an anonymous report to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources by calling 1-800-TIP-WDNR, or dial 1-800-847-9367.

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