Phase 2: Illegal Deaths and Injuries to WI’s Large Wild Birds

WI Green Fire, May 30, 2024

two adult bald eagles in a tree

Bald Eagles by Veronika Andrews via Pixabay

Wisconsin’s Green Fire (WGF) experts are working to protect wildlife and support wildlife rehabilitators.

We need help from the WGF community and beyond to continue Phase 2 of this important project! Will you support us?

Earlier this month, Wisconsin Public Radio reported on an ongoing project of our Wildlife Work Group, asking “What’s behind the rise in non-hunted bird deaths?” Experts at WGF have been digging into that question as we move into Phase 2 of our Injured Wildlife Project, focused on illegal deaths and injuries to Wisconsin’s large wild non-hunted wild birds.

Illegal Deaths and Injuries to Wisconsin’s Large Wild Birds report cover page

Illegal Deaths and Injuries to Wisconsin’s Large Wild Birds: Identifying and Evaluating Recent Occurrences – Phase 1 Project Report

How did this work begin?

In early 2021, Wisconsin licensed wildlife rehabilitators reached out to Wisconsin’s Green Fire. The rehabilitators were noting an increased number of illegal shootings and harassment of large non-hunted birds including bald eagles, hawks, owls, loons, swans, cranes, and others.

We began a collaborative engagement, using data voluntarily supplied by the wildlife rehabilitators. Using this data, we released the Phase 1 report: “Illegal Deaths and Injuries to Wisconsin’s Large Wild Birds: Identifying and Evaluating Recent Occurrences.” in February 2024.

As we move into Phase 2 of this research, lead investigator on this project Kerry Beheler writes:

Why should you care that we found 70 wild birds submitted to wildlife rehabilitators were shot between 2017 and 2021? Because it is not legal or ethical to shoot any of these birds. To fully understand the extent, severity, and geographic distribution of these illegal occurrences, further work is needed.

We ask you to support our efforts for Phase 2 of this injured wildlife project.

With your support, we can:

  • Develop a standardized database that all WI rehabilitators can use, to facilitate meaningful analysis and data comparison. This will happen with collaboration with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
  • Further explore the causes, trends, and spatial occurrence of illegal injury and other factors including lead poisoning, rodenticide poisoning, collision trauma, Avian Influenza, and other emerging diseases.
  • Recommend funding dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation, as wildlife rehabilitators need a consistent and reliable source of funding to perform their basic community service functions.
  • Raise public awareness, partner with other groups, and communicate to multiple groups including ethical hunters and non-hunters, to reduce illegal shootings and foster a coalition to address and stop these occurrences.

The expert scientists of our Work Groups are the powerhouses for projects like this, but you do not have to be an expert to be involved as a voice for conservation! We welcome input and support from the breadth of the conservation community.

If you share our mission to advance science-based conservation to address Wisconsin’s greatest conservation challenges, we ask you to join us. 

Please consider supporting us with a donation today. Thank you!

Eaglet on Nest, Rush River Delta State Natural Area, Photo by Jeff Henry

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