Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wind Storm Extraordinarie Hits WI, Saving Bears in Istanbul, Turkey

Our blog has always been about the day to day work we are doing at REGI. A few days ago a friend, Wildlife Veterinarian, Ahmet Emre Kütükçü posted a beautiful video depicting some of his wildlife work, at Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of Turkey . The center is located near Istanbul, Turkey. Too often as we focus on the wildlife problems in the U.S. we remain blissfully unaware of the important work unfolding in other countries. I wanted to bring the video to REGI blog readers to raise awareness of wildlife woes throughout the world. I taught classes in Wildlife Rehabilitation at the University of Ankara several years ago. The Wildlife Veterinarians and Rehabilitators in Europe and Eurasia work hard, just as we in North American do to make a difference for wildlife.

Saving Bears video. The story below was submitted by Ahmet to explain what is happening.
Ahmet writes:
"A villager called Necmettin Alper, who had gone to the forest to pick chestnuts on October 21, 2010, witnessed a brown bear trapped in a wire trap designed to trap wild boars in Samandere village of Duzce province in north-western Turkey. He notified the local directorate of Environment & Forestry for the rescue of the bear. The local directorate got in touch with the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation team of Turkey. The team had made its preparations and left Istanbul at 4.00 am in the morning to rescue the bear. They arrived at Duzce at 6.30 in the morning and met with the local directorate members to reach the location where the bear trapped. They arrived at the village of Samandere driving along muddy roads under heavy rain and reached the location. They had to hike about 1 km in the forest to reach the bear.

A brown bear of an estimated weight of 250 kg was identified and seen that it was trapped in a wire trap designed for wild boars mostly. The team started their preparations apply the anesthesia. Meanwhile the bear got very aggressive. It was quite tough for the team since the vegetation was very dense and covered with bushes and rhododendrons. They had to climb up a tree in order to get a better sight to shoot the bear. The bear was shot three times with the dart gun He went to sleep in a few minutes. The local directorate team and villagers helped the rescue team. A thick wire cable caught the bear in his thick hide in the midsection. The bear had no long lasting injuries in part because the bear was very fat for the winter hibernation. Therefore the wire did not hurt the muscles or the tissues of the bear. The team cut the wire and rescued the bear.
The bear was trapped at least for a day, tired, hungry and thirsty. In order not to keep the bear under anesthesia, the team injected the anti sedan for the quick reversibility of the bear. The bear woke and went on with his life.
Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center of Turkey was established by KuzeyDoga Society, Turkish Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks and BTC Co. Environmental Investment Programme.

We are still having very strong wind storms in our area. Our Internet connection is often compromised because of the storms. If you have contacted REGI and not heard back please call again. Thank you for your patience. There will be many rescues due to the storm within the next few days.

Marge Gibson 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Loons Times Two, Ruffed Grouse Admitted, Coulee Region Audubon Society and La Crosse Sierra Club Presention

When I last wrote we had one young Common Loon in the REGI clinic. She came in wrapped in fishing line. On Thursday we admitted another Common Loon patient. This is also a young bird. Unfortunately, loon #2 has lead poisoning.

( Photo: This fishing hook is embedded in the digestive system of the Common Loon that was also wrapped in fishing line. If you have ever had a fishing hook in your finger you can appreciate how this must feel to the loon patient. )

( Photo: This is a full body x-ray of the Common Loon. The x-ray shows the location of the fishing hook. Look at center chest of the x-ray. )

Loon #1 is gaining strength and eating well. She remains on one tube feeding a day and is on prophylactic treatment to ward off aspergillosis. She is also on antibiotics. The hook has caused an infection in her abdomen.
The great news is the hook appears to be degrading within her. With a little luck and her strong digestive system, the hook should disappear over the next few weeks. We are so grateful hooks are not made of lead.

Loon #1 was admitted with a weight of under 5 lbs. She is now closing in on 7 lbs!
We are cautiously optimistic she will be a wild loon within a few weeks time. The plan is to fly her to the coast of Florida to be released.

( Photo: Common Loon #1 is gaining strength rapidly. While she currently carries a fish hook in her abdomen, we hope for a full recovery.)

Common Loon #2 is much weaker than our first loon. She has lead poisoning and is under treatment with CA EDTA to chelate the lead from her blood. The good news with this loon is the x-ray does not show any lead in her digestive system. We hope once the lead is chelated from her blood and bones, she will begin to recover as well.

She is being tube fed exclusively as she is unable to eat on her own at this point. Having said that, she grabbed a minnow and ate it early this morning. YEA!

( Photo: Katie F. positions Loon #1 for an x-ray while Betsy R. tech at the Antigo Veterinary Clinic prepares to take her x-ray. Many thanks to Dr. Sarah and the Antigo Vet Clinic for their continued support. )

( Photo: Common Loon #2 swimming in the tub. Notice the pea green feces under her. The green color is an indicator of liver damage and lead poisoning. )

If anyone has access to and can donate live minnows or small fish for our Common Loon patients, we would greatly appreciate it.

( Photo: This young Ruffed Grouse was hit by a car. She is improving daily. We hope for a full recovery. )

A Ruffed Grouse was hit by a car near Elcho, WI. She was fortunate a caring person scooped her up off the road and brought her into REGI for care. Thanks Rachel!

I have been traveling doing programs this past week. On Wednesday I was honored to do a presentation for the Coulee Region Audubon Society and the La Crosse Sierra Club in La Crosse, WI. They are two fantastic groups. Talking to groups involved in the environment is exciting for me on many levels. Many thanks to them for inviting me. I left La Crosse with many new friends.

We continue to prepare for winter at the REGI faciliy.

( Photo: Robert and Brandon working on installing the plastic shielding on the caging.)

Have a great day everyone.

Marge Gibson © 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bald Eagle Release, Bald Eagle, Goshawk, Mourning Dove, Cedar Waxwing Admitted, Loon Update

( Photo: Gina (Javurek) and Kyle Smith pose with me and the Bald Eagle they released minutes later.)

It was a busy and exciting weekend for us. Gina Javurek, former REGI UWSP intern and employee was married to Kyle Smith. It was a beautiful outdoor wedding which was punctuated with the release of an adult Bald Eagle Click on the link to see the story. Gina and Kyle are both biologists and currently work for Alaska Fish and Game. Gina is also an Environmental Educator. We wish them the very best as they begin a life together!

Anyone who knows me even a little bit understands that our interns and former employees remain part of the REGI family, and therefore ours, forever:). There have been many interns over the past 20 years. They are living and working far throughout the U.S. and world. We treasure the times we meet up with them, and share special times in their lives. We are convinced REGI people have the most beautiful weddings EVER!

( Photo: Immature Bald Eagle admitted with a traumatic wing injury. )

We admitted a young Bald Eagle with a traumatic wing injury this weekend. He lost a lot of blood with the injury. He is beginning to eat on his own and that is a good sign. As in most wildlife cases, we are not sure what caused the injury. It is possible the eagle was shot. Shooting an eagle is illegal, of course, but happens more than the public would believe. Wildife law enforcement will be involved if the injuries are the cause of illegal activity.

( Photo: Lance carries the Common Loon patient to the water tub so she can fish.)

The Common Loon admitted last Sunday with fishing line and a lead sinker wrapped around her beak and tongue is making progress. She had some breathing problems through the weekend and began running a high temperature. She is now on antibiotics as well as the antifungal drugs to ward off aspergillosis.

Her beak is actually indented, which may be a long term mark. Fortunately, that will not be a disability.

( Photo: The indentation on the loon's beak where the fishing line was wrapped is still visible. )

Cedar Waxwings are winging their way to warmer climates and eating fruit left on trees on their way. The birds can get a little affected ..."drunk" from the berries and fruit as the fruit begins to ferment on the tree. The birds affected are often found on the ground looking dazed or hit windows when their judgment is impaired. We admitted just such a patient Sunday. A beautiful Cedar Waxwing spent a little too much time eating crab apples and hit a window when she was startled. She is doing great and will be released this morning.

( Photo: This young male Goshawk had a lot to say as he lay on the exam table in REGI's clinic. He hit a window near Wisconsin Rapids.)

Speaking of hitting windows, we admitted a young male Goshawk on Saturday. He hit a window near Wisconsin Rapids. Many thanks to Dave and Judy Marshall for transporting the Goshawk to REGI.

Goshawks are a bird of the woodlands and are not often seen. Of interest, we have admitted two young males in the past month. Both Goshawk patients hit windows and have head injuries. The Goshawk is a species of special concern in the State of Wisconsin.

( Photo: This Mourning Dove was admitted on Saturday with a trichomonas infection. Trichomonas is easily treated if the bird is brought into care but is almost always fatal without intervention. )

Amy and Cody Lane of Wausau, along with a friend, volunteered on Saturday. We didn't get any photos of their time here but really appreciate the help. Thanks guys!

Have a great week everyone. I will be doing a presentation in La Crosse on the evening of the 20th. I will have more information on that later this week.

Marge Gibson © 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Adult Bald Eagle Admitted, Loon Making Progress, Many Calls on Injured Waterfowl

( Photo: Katie and Alberta tube feed the most recent Bald Eagle patient admitted from the Merrill area. )

We admitted an adult Bald Eagle with neurological signs. He is very low in weight coming in with a weight of just below 5 lbs. A typical male Bald Eagle weighs 8-9 lbs. Because he was so weak, we took a day to stabilize him before drawing blood for testing. He has an elevated blood Lead level. It is however not as high as I would expect to cause the extreme symptoms he exhibits. We began chelating treatments for lead but continue to look for other toxins that may also be present.

( Photo: Drawing blood from the adult Bald Eagle admitted suffering from neurological symptoms. He likely has ingested or was exposed to a toxin. Tests are underway to determine what toxin.)

A blog reader wrote to ask why many of our birds are starving when admitted when there is plenty of food in the environment. In the cases of a toxin, the bird is unable to eat. You can think of your own bodies reaction to eating something poisoned. If they are unable to eat due to toxin or unable to capture their own food due to a leg, wing fracture or other injury, the cycle of starvation begins. Some time can go by before the bird is captured and brought into REGI. The fact is by the time a wild bird can be captured, it has to be very weak. Starvation complicates the care needed, but is often part of the diagnosis.

( Photo: The Common Loon stretches her neck out underwater to grab a minnow!)

Our Common Loon is making progress. We are cautiously optimistic for her recovery. Aspergillosis is a fungal infection that can be a serious problem in loons and other avian species when they are physiologically stressed. She is treated twice a day with anti fungal oral medication to prevent aspergillosis.
Meanwhile she is swimming several times a day now and while still being tube fed emaciation diet she is also eating minnows ravenously on her own. Keep her in your thoughts as she has a long way to go.

Waterfowl hunting is underway in Wisconsin. We are receiving many calls about wounded Canada Geese and various species of ducks. Sadly, many of these game birds are injured and left to die a slow and painful death. If you find a goose or duck that needs help, please carefully put it in a cardboard box with a towel in the bottom and bring it to the REGI facility. We wish we could respond to every call, but our staff is small and the need great. We will take care of the birds once they arrive. Often the are able to recover.

( Photo: Alberta had a birthday on Tuesday! With the interns no longer with us, our group is significantly smaller, but still enthusiastic! We were happy Dave Koch, volunteer extraordinaire, was able to join us for the celebration. Dave has been working on the new eagle building. I will devote an entire blog to that effort and the great folks that helped Dave as well when we put the eagle in her new building.)

We have a busy day ahead. Hope your day is perfect!

Marge Gibson © 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Loon with Beak Wrapped with Fishing Line and Sinker, Volunteer Weekend

( Photo: This Common Loon, in immature plumage, was found on Sunday with fishing line wrapped around her beak, tongue and neck. Note the lead sinker attached to the line. People sometimes ask us how lead sinkers could possibly affect wildlife. This is how. The loon was unable to eat or even drink due to the position the line held her tongue, beak and neck.)

We had many wildlife calls this weekend. Sunday afternoon several people called about what they thought was a goose with broken legs on a local road. When they went back to check the "goose", it was gone. An hour later we got a call from the same area of a Great-blue Heron in a farmer's driveway. We left immediately to rescue the bird, whatever it might be. We arrived to find not a goose or a heron, but a Common Loon. She was in very difficult situation.

Fishing line was wound around her beak and neck. A lead sinker was visible on the side of her mouth. The fishing line was twisted around her tongue in such a way that she was unable to eat or even drink. The loon could open her mouth only 1/2 inch. To complicate matters, she had apparently had this problem for some time as she was near starvation.

We rushed her to the REGI clinic. My great staff had all the things we needed including wire cutters and electrolyte fluid ready when we drove up. We worked on the loon carefully to extricate her from the line. The tongue was wrapped tight. I worried about long term damage to her mouth. Gratefully, this morning she seems to be doing well. She has an uphill battle, however, to recover from starvation. We will work hard to make sure she has a future.

The young loon is still in critical condition. We have not done x-rays or blood work as she is too fragile at this point. I will keep you updated. F.Y.I. a person did not wrap this loon with the line. Unfortunately, when line is discarded in a lake or shore, wildlife find it and become entangled. Encourage fishermen you know to please discard their line responsibly. My grandchildren and I walk local lakes to collect discarded line. You would be amazed how much there is. It is a good activity to do with childen. They get exercise while learning about wildlife and being responsible people.

( Photo: Monofilment fishing line complete with lead sinker was removed from Common Loon patient #377-10 on Sunday.)

( Photo: Eating a few minnows on her own, our loon patient must be relieved to be able to open her mouth again. Feeding a starvation case is complicated. If given too much food, she could die. Most of this patient's food is an ematiation diet which she gets though a tube.)

We worked doing every outdoor project possible to keep ahead of the cold weather. Last year we had snow on this day! We know that could be our reality any day now. Once the weather hits freezing, we don't even see the ground until spring. It is a blanket of snow.

Thank goodness for volunteers Brandon Carmichael, Lenora Dombro, and Zack Zalewski! They worked hard all weekend along with REGI staff to get the facility ready for winter. We still have lots to do, but we can relax a little knowing the vital painting and moving soil, including some ditch digging, are finished.

People know we work with birds at REGI, but many have little idea of the manual labor involved in upkeep of the buildings and grounds in good shape. If any blog readers are carpenters or even know how to swing a hammer, we are always in need of cage repair.

( Photo: Zackary Zalewski and Robert Prinsen give the inside of the new eagle enclosure a second coat of paint to prepare for winter!. Thanks guys!)

( Photo: UWSP students Brandon Carmichael and Lenora Dombro volunteered all day on Sunday. They finished up the painting, then went right to hauling dirt and finally working with the birds. Thanks guys! )

Have a great day everyone!

Marge Gibson © 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hermit Thrush and Merlin Admitted...Bald Eagle Chase Down

At REGI we are always well aware of what bird species is migrating through our area. While many people have birding reports to rely on, we actually have the "bird in the hand" so to speak.

( This Hermit Thrush was hit by a car. They are migrating at this time to a warmer climate. This bird, however, will miss fall migration this year. It will stay at REGI as it recovers from a head injury. )

Merlins are on the move as well. Small but powerful falcons, Merlins dive or "stoop" at a high rate of speed. Our newest Merlin patient is a female. She is a big strapping lady bird with a wing injury. I never tire of experiencing what can only be described as their exuberance for life while they are captive. While some species are patient patients, Merlins do not fit that description.

( This female Merlin likely hit a guy wire and injured her wing. This is a common injury for this speedy little falcon. )

We had a busy day "chasing eagles" on Wednesday. We had 5 Bald Eagles in the large eagle conditioning flight. It was time to catch up each of them to evaluate their release readiness. In the end, over an hour later, Katie, Alberta and I were all huffing and puffing, and one of the birds was still happily avoiding capture. He is the epitome of being well-conditioned.

We were too exhausted to take photos of this event. But, trust me, it was very cool!

The weather has been nothing short of gorgeous this week. I love the change of the seasons. Fall is beautiful with the brightly colored leaves. It is also, however, a warning that winter will be upon us before we know it. We are making the most of preparing for the inevitable.

( Photo: One of the beautiful maple trees in full color on REGI property.)

We will be working until the snow flies getting painting done, winterizing the mews and enclosures, and doing repairs to existing buildings. If you have some time, give a call and come on over to lend a hand. I promise, you will be warmly greeted and will definitely feel needed. You can reach Molly at 715-623-2563 or the clinic at 715-623-4015 if you want to volunteer some time.

( Photo: Lance doing some "up high" painting on Thursday. )

Have a great day everyone.
Marge Gibson

Monday, October 4, 2010

Raptor Education Group, Inc (REGI) Birds Featured in Wisconsin Trails Magazine

Hello Everyone,

We are happy and excited to announce that several of our education birds are featured in the most recent issue (Oct 2010) of Wisconsin Trails magazine. Wisconsin Trails is a well-respected magazine in our state, which makes the honor all the more pertinent. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do! As an additional bonus, a photo of one of our favorite resident chickens appears on the back page. While the story is unrelated to her personally, it is an honor to have this special little lady showcased.

The photo above of our red-phase Screech Owl is just one of those you will see. Photographer Jerry Luterman did a fantastic job not only of photographing our birds but also being sensitive to their needs and ours during the process. I am a stickler when it comes to the well being of our birds. Keeping me happy means the photo session had to be stress-free and uncompromising for the birds. That can be a challenge for photographers.:)

Fall has arrived! The brightly colored leaves of the Maple and Oak trees are spectacular in our region now. Migration is ongoing, but many species have already left Wisconsin for warmer climates. Last night we had a hard frost with the temperature dipping to a chilly 23 degrees F. or -6.7 degrees C.

The clinic is full of patients, so stay tuned to the next blog.

Happy fall everyone,

Marge Gibson