ANTIGO, Wis. (AP) - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials are searching for the person who shot federally protected birds in Wisconsin.
Marge Gibson, the executive director of the Raptor Education Group in Antigo, told (Wisconsin Rapids) Daily Tribune Media at least one osprey and one barred owl were shot in Bayfield County in recent weeks. Both species are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
She said the adult male osprey was shot in the wing and was eventually euthanized.
A nestling osprey is shown at the Raptor Education Group facility in Antigo, Wis. (AP?photo)
Gibson determined the male osprey was the father of two hungry osprey chicks discovered a few days later. She said one of the chicks jumped from its nest, about 60 to 80 feet above ground, into traffic and died.
"Their options are to starve up there (in the nest) or jump," Gibson said.
The mother's body was later found decomposing nearby. Gibson believes the mother was also shot.
The other chick also jumped, but it survived after landing in grass, and was taken to the Raptor Education Group. Gibson said the chick was reunited with its father for several days. The father helped begin the process of nursing the chick back to health before he was put down.
Gibson said people usually shoot ospreys because they think the birds are eating fish that people otherwise would catch.
"It's hard to understand the psyche of someone who would just go out and start shooting things for no reason," Gibson said. "Especially when they're being shot at the nest when they know that there are babies and the babies will starve."
Tina Shaw, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Midwest Region, said the agency hopes the public will help identify the culprits. If they are convicted, she said they could face fines and time in prison.
The surviving chick is still recovering and will eventually be fostered in a nest with other wild chicks.
Authorities will continue to search for the individuals responsible for the deaths of the four federally protected birds.