Local bird population takes major hit from human impact

Antigo Raptor Education Group has double the avian patients than normal years
Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 4:22 PM CDT
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ANTIGO, Wis. (WSAW) - The Raptor Education Group, or REGI, is a group in Antigo that takes care of injured birds and helps to rehabilitate them back into the wild. This year, they’ve almost doubled their amount of patients.

“We have over 700 (birds) and a staff of five and some interns. It’s pretty overwhelming,” Executive Director of REGI Marge Gibson said.

The facility is currently treating many small birds that are suffering from issues caused by more people staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those issues is being poisoned by insect repellents.

“Not only does it kill mosquitoes in your yard, but it also kills the birds that eat mosquitoes and other insects as well,” Gibson added.

Another problem that REGI had this year is with people using fireworks near lakes. That number was higher during the Fourth of July since many fireworks shows were canceled. But the private shows have a negative impact on the birds that live on the lake.

“People don’t realize that is the week (Fourth of July), the weekend that loons are hatching. Everyone loves loons but they’re killing them and killing their babies,” Gibson explained.

The group also has 20 eagles on the property, some of which were also impacted by the fireworks.

“They do it at night, that’s when the fireworks are going off, that’s when they’re frightened. And they (baby eagles) hit branches on the way down,” Gibson stated.

Right now is an important season for the baby birds in Wisconsin. So Marge says that people can help by holding off on projects until the fall or spring.

“Put off your project for a little bit of time. You’ll let them have their babies in the natural way and that’s important,” Gibson explained.

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