Saving Our Avian Resources (SOAR) is a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1999 dedicated to saving our avian resources through raptor rehabilitation, education, and research. SOAR maintains all necessary US Fish & Wildlife Service and Iowa DNR permits to provide the rehabilitation and education.
- Establish a regional raptor rehabilitation facility to serve western Iowa.
- Use personal connections with individual, wild animals to bring attention to important natural resource conservation projects and issues.
- Conserve habitat, conduct needed research, and provide educational opportunities.
Special deer hunt at USFWS Lost Mound is a success
The white-tailed deer rut was in full swing with a large buck aggressively pursuing a doe when the clash of antlers off in the distance caught his attention. He momentarily stopped, looked around, and continued to pursue the doe. Then, a grunt bellowed from the nearby woods that signaled a rival buck had intruded into his territory and must be challenged. That fateful decision resulted in 22 bucks now being Thanksgiving dinner for the hunters that pursued them.
Freezing temperatures and snow chilled the spirits but not the enthusiasm of sportsmen with disabilities that participated in the special deer hunt held November 15-16 at the Lost Mound Unit of Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge in Savanna, IL. Field surveys showed the deer population was high and the rutting season was at its peak.
Quadriplegics, paraplegics, amputees, and other physically challenged hunters harvested 50 deer that included 28 does and 22 bucks. The largest buck, a 12-pointer with a field-dressed weight of 189 pounds, was taken by Dave Buchner from Spring Church, Pennsylvania. ‘Deadeye Dave’ has also harvested the largest buck in past years over the eight year span of the Lost Mound hunt.
This special deer hunt has gained national attention with a record 96 hunters participating. It provides a boost to the local economy with one-third of hunters being non-residents and many residents traveling from across the state. Hunters from 12 states participated: Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida, Minnesota, and Illinois.
Lost Mound Site Manager Alan Anderson stated, “Success is attributed to the high quality hunting experience and to partnerships. The Southern Illinois based “Seasons of Hope” non-profit organization has provided many disabled hunters the opportunity to participate at Lost Mound.”
Hunters were required to use non-lead ammunition for this special hunt. The regulation went into effect this year after research found that bald eagles were being exposed to lead ammunition fragments in gut piles that were discarded in the field by hunters. Hundreds of bald eagles congregate at Lost Mound and are routinely observed circling the hunt area searching for their next meal. Many hunters commented on the killing power of the popular copper ammunition that was used by most.
Site Manager Anderson was excited about the continued success of this program and stated, “It is a unique hunting experience by a special group of sportsmen. Their daily challenges of life were overshadowed by the enthusiasm and determination for deer hunting. They provided both inspiration and encouragement to the staff and volunteers that administered the hunt.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge was established in 1924 and contains 244,000 acres that extends along 261 miles of the Upper Mississippi River.
Remember -- protected predators keep the balance!
Unfortunately it's that time of year when we can see red-tailed hawks admitted with what are likely gunshot wounds. See photo right of a bird admitted 30 October 2012 >>>.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws make it illegal to kill, capture, possess, harass, or harm any bird of prey. Violations are punishable by fines of $5,000 to $250,000 or more, jail sentences, confiscation of possessions, and revocation of licenses.
Red-tailed hawks are the most regularly seen, large, sit-and-hunt, small mammal predator. They seem to be everywhere in the fall as young disperse and northern birds move in to take advantage of open hunting ground. This changes by late February. The resident nesting pairs clean house by chasing all other hawks out of their territories.
Don't get caught believing that hawks are eating all the game birds! Did you know that 75% of red-tailed hawk's diet is made up of small mammals like rabbits, mice, rats, and ground squirrels?
- Download, print, and share Protected Predators Keep the Balance brochure (2.4 MB PDF)
Looking for a non-toxic ammo gift for your favorite hunter?
Not sure what to get? First, find out what the caliber or gauge of their favorite firearm and then check that against what is available! Does your hunter reload their own cartridges? Not to worry, non-lead bullets are available, too.
Download this list of non-lead hunting bullets and ammunition that not only lists what is available by manufacturer but also lists great websites to purchase on-line.
Here's a short video from our friends at Hunting With Nonlead talking about making the switch!
Raptor Viewing Etiquette
We should all oserve good raptor viewing etiquette, not only during the nesting season, but also during migration and the winter months when many raptors will gather together in good hunting areas.
Remember that raptors are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and bald and golden eagles have additional protections under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
- Respect landowners and do not trespass.
- If you see raptors on the ground, do not approach or feed.
- USFWS mandates safe viewing of bald eagle nests of at least 330 ft away.
SOAR celebrated 15th Anniversary
Thank you to all who attended or wanted to attend (and were there in spirit)! We had folks attending from out-fof-state -- Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. It was great to connect with old friends and make new friends.
Sculpture wins big for artist!
Jennifer Felton used SOAR's education short-eared owl as a study model for her wood carving. Here's what she had to say after a recent competition she entered, "I ribboned which is an accomplishment at the world level for sure! I moved up to the professional level for the first time. Most of the carvers at that level have been carving for 20-30 years. It was stiff competition. I was pleased to have received an honorable mention (so I took 4th out of 12)."
Human-made hazards abound
It's difficult being a wild creature in the human landscape. Dangers lurk around every corner and navigating them is a challenge. Look out your window and you're likely to see at least a couple hazards for our furred and feathered friends, in fact your window could be a hazard. SOAR admits most patients because of human-bird interaction that has gone wrong -- shotgun pellets in the bird, bird being hit by a vehicle, bird's nest tree cut down, birds colliding with large windows, and birds eating spent lead hunting ammunition just to name a few.
Many of these interactions can have a better outcome with a bit of intervention.
- Learn about the effective of nonlead ammunition (particularly copper) and share your knowledge with hunters. Here's a short video from our friends at Hunting With Nonlead talking about making the switch! Visit this page for more info, too!
- Bird safe power poles - Raptor Resource Project blog 11/26/12, scroll down just a bit to get to the entry on the 26th.
- Perch plans for bird safe power poles on Flickr
- FLAP - Fatal Light Awareness Program has info on how to reduce bird window collisions and yes, the group is from Canada, but collisions are collisions!
- Make your own Acopian Bird Savers to prevent bird collisions with windows.
How about planting a seed with your local power company and giving them the "Raptors at Risk" video... order here!