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Marge Gibson (copy)

Marge Gibson of the Antigo-based Raptor Education Group walks the crowd with a rehabilitated bald eagle in this January, 2017 file photo at VFW Park in Prairie du Sac. Gibson announced REGI will not have a presence at this year's Bald Eagle Watching Days.

The Antigo-based Raptor Education Group will not be releasing rehabilitated eagles at the 2018 Bald Eagle Watching Days.

Marge Gibson of the raptor group, the non-profit responsible for rehabilitating injured and sick birds of prey for return to the wild, said neither she, nor any member of her staff would be able to make it to this year’s Bald Eagle Watching Days slated for Jan. 12-13.

Gibson said her husband is ill and requires out-of-state treatment.

“It’s a hard situation,” Gibson said. “We only have a three-person staff. With me gone, we will be short-staffed. And with about 200 patients, they have to be here.”

Gibson said if the Sauk Prairie area gets a fresh coating of snow before she and her husband leave, Gibson or a staff member from REGI will attempt to do an eagle release prior to Bald Eagle Watching Days in the Sauk Prairie area. The snow is important, she said, to cover any animal carcasses hunters have left behind. The majority of hunters use lead bullets, which are poisonous to the eagles.

When contacted, Barb Barzen, vice president of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council, hadn’t yet heard Gibson wouldn’t be attending the event.

“We’ve went a few years without a release and it will certainly decrease the crowd,” Barzen said. As for further comment, Barzen said she needed to discuss the matter with other council members and “digest” the situation.

There is still a chance another group, such as The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, might be interested in releasing rehabilitated eagles during Eagle Watching Days but nothing has been confirmed.

Follow Autumn Luedke on Twitter @Apwriter1 or contact at (608) 393-5777

Reporter, Sauk Prairie Eagle