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Recent osprey deaths described as a "rare situation"

ANTIGO, Wis. (WXPR) -- An Antigo wildlife rehabilitator says the recent case of several ospreys dead in Bayfield County is a rare situation.

Marge Gibson of the Raptor Education Group says last month her rehab center took in an adult male osprey that had been shot in the wing. Authorities soon found the ospreys’ abandoned nest and its two chicks.  “When the bird didn’t come back, the youngsters started calling loudly, doing food begging calls. They were not old enough to leave the nest by themselves, and finally ended up jumping from the nest just in desperation to be fed.”

One jumped into traffic and was killed by a car, but the other landed in soft grass and is now doing well at the Raptor Education Group in Antigo.

As authorities continued their investigation, they found a barred owl that had also been shot, and the body of the mother osprey. That body was already decomposing so the cause of death is unclear.

Gibson says it’s rare enough to see a protected bird get shot, but to see several birds killed in one area makes it even more unique.  “It’s a very unusual situation when both adults go missing at the same time from a nest. If for instance something were to happen to one adult, the remaining adult would still be able to feed and care for the youngsters.”

The osprey chick that did survive is doing well, and Gibson plans to place it in a nest in the wild.

Meanwhile federal officials are looking for the public’s help in identifying the perpetrators.

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