Raptor Center seeks public's help with grant, tours listed|
|The Antigo-based Raptor Education Group has opened for summer tours, and Director Marge Gibson is hoping supporters spend some time at their computers as well.|
Gibsonís center, one of the largest in the world devoted to the care and rehabilitation of eagles and other large birds of prey, has been nominated for the 2014 Rare Life Award and depending on the results of Internet voting, could be in line for a $40,000 stipend from Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey.
Six other finalists will each received $4,000.
The announcement of the award comes as Gibsonís center opens its doors for its summer tours, offering a rare opportunity to see magnificent birds of prey up close and very personal.
Tours take place Tuesday, Thursday and the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. through August. Fee is $8 per person, and is free for children under 5.
Space is limited to 20 spots per tour and pre-registration is required. Call 715-623- 2563 to reserve a spot.
The tours are a thrilling opportunity for the public, and Gibson is in the midst of a similarly exciting chance to boost her nonprofit organizationís bottom line through the Rare Life Award.
In her nomination for the honor, Gibson is heralded as, quite literally, an Eagle Rare Life.
The nomination notes that she is an internationally respected avian rehabilitator whose lifeís work has defined the field. Her research and documented case studies have provided invaluable insight into behaviors, nutritional needs, disease, rehabilitation procedures and post-release data of native bird species that is utilized worldwide.
A dedicated educator, she shares that knowledge through countless intern programs, public education events, and rehab consultations around the globe.
Raptor Education Group, Inc. is responsible for the rehabilitation of over 10,000 injured and orphaned wild birds, of which approximately 1,100 are bald and golden eagles.
While living in California, Gibson benefited the California Condor Recovery Project, founded the Orange County Bird of Prey Center, pioneered the treatment of lead poisoning and West Nile Virus in birds, and directed the Eagle Capture and Health Assessment team in Alaska following the Valdez oil spill in 1989.
After returning to Antigo in 1990, she and her husband Don, a retired pathologist, formed Raptor Education Group, Inc. as an outlet to continue educating the largely misinformed world about raptors and their valuable role in the ecosystem. Before long, however, they realized there was an overwhelming need for rehabilitation services for native birds, specifically eagles, and found themselves operating an around-the-clock care facility.
Today, REGI has grown to 11 patient buildings, a small clinic, and one of the countryís largest flight buildings for exercising Bald Eagles and other patients before release.
State and federal cutbacks for wildlife programs has resulted in both a greater need for REGIís services and an increased challenge in raising operating income, all of which now comes from public donations and the remains of the Gibsonís retirement fund.
Public voting on the nominations will continue until Jan. 7, with supporters able to vote daily. To vote for Gibson, visit eaglerarelife.com/content/marge-gibson and click on the ďVote for this storyĒ tab on the bottom of the page.
Gibson said that if she wins, the money will be used to improve REGI facilities and to increase educational opportunities.
Marge and Don Gibson with Morrie, a pet turkey vulture, at the Raptor Education facility in Antigo.
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