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.
Please check out the Fall 2014 newsletter from SOAR!
Minnesota Avian Adventure - January 16-19, 2015
Carroll, Cass, and Sac County Conservation Boards have teamed up to offer another exciting trip north! We will be heading to Sax-Zim Bog, Two Harbors, and Duluth, with many stops in between. This isn't just a birding trip, it's a trip to see lots of other wildlife, explore the beautiful North Woods and scenic Lake Superior coast, take in the quaint culture of the area, and to have a fantastic time with like-minded souls. Registration cut-off December 31, 2014. For more details download this pdf!
Kay has received official word from US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that the 22 June 2014 juvenile eagle admitted from Decorah, IA / Winneshiek County is no longer being held under Kay’s federal rehabilitation permit, this juvenile eagle has been transferred to Kay’s Live Eagle Exhibition Permit!
Decorah will be his name!
Now Kay will begin his formal training needed to be an education ambassador on the fist. Kay will make leather jesses for him and attach. (Look at photos of Thora to see her leather jesses.) Once “jessed up,” then Kay will start fist-training. Before Decorah is ready to carry out his duties as an education ambassador for SOAR, he will need to be comfortable sitting on Kay’s fist, learn to step to her fist, to the perch, and back, plus he will need practice going in and out of his travel crate! Decorah needs practice sitting on a bow perch (this is what you see Thora sitting on in photos). That’s a great deal of adjustment. There is no set timeline for these activities… how quickly Decorah responds and gains comfort will be the determining factor on training progression. This isn’t a one-week course… this is an open-ended course that requires much consistent work.
Kay is not only going to be working with Decorah, but will be supervising SOAR volunteers Tyler and Terrie to gain the experience needed to someday be additional handlers for Decorah. Both Tyler and Terrie have much experience working with SOAR’s education red-tailed hawk, great horned owl, barred owl and more. USFWS recommends that persons working with a live education eagle gain 500 hours of experience working with eagles over two years. This experience is to include handling an eagle, caring and feeding eagles, captive husbandry techniques (perching, jessing, housing requirements), and medical management. In addition, they will need to present programs using a glove-trained eagle under the supervision of Kay.
As able, we'll post updates on training of eagle and humans here on the home page. His posts will no longer be on the website patient page... Decorah will not be added to the Education page that lists our ambassadors until he is ready for those duties.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Releases Dove Lethality Study Findings
Dove hunting is big business in Texas, with around 250,000 dove hunters adding $300 million into the Texas economy annually. Texas leads the nation in dove hunting with 5 million mourning doves harvested each fall. Given the size of harvest and the economic investment by hunters, TPWD understands that any regulations affecting dove hunting ammunition could impact the economy and the environment.
Research was conducted during the 2008 and 2009 Texas dove hunting seasons. The double-blind study used volunteer hunters, trained observers to record data (all working or retired wildlife biologists), and three different 12 gauge shot loads. The different load types included: 1 ⅛ ounce of No. 7 ½ lead shot, 1 ounce of No. 6 steel shot, and 1 ounce of No. 7 steel shot. All shot shells were loaded according to industry standards in Fiocchi Brand brown, opaque, 2-piece plastic hulls with 16mm brass heights so hunters and observers could not tell by sight the contents of the shell. The study also looked at the effect of three different shotgun choke tubes used. Choke tubes are of different diameters and constrict the shot string as it leaves the muzzle of the shot gun and impacts shot density.
This study is the first on the lethality of lead versus non-toxic shot under typical hunting conditions for mourning dove to be published in a scientific journal. The Institute of Renewable Natural Resources at Texas A&M University, Thomas Roster (Roster was involved in designing the CONSEP shooting workshops -- Read some about Roster and the workshop here.), and Texas Parks and Wildlife authored report will be published in the March 2015 issue of The Wildlife Society Bulletin, a peer-reviewed, scientific publication containing papers related to wildlife management, conservation law enforcement, conservation education, economics, administration, philosophy, ethics, and contemporary resource problems. An advance release of the report is available as pdf here.
What the study tells hunters is that their success afield should not change with the type of shot used. Ammunition and choke combinations that have higher pattern densities yield a higher hunt success. TPWD officials believe the research findings may be useful to Texas hunters as they make decisions on the type of loads they choose for dove hunting.
The researchers and TPWD stop short of discussing whether or not lead shot should be banned for dove hunting.
Two in less than 24 hours, Nov. 24-25
The left lower leg bone is severed on this eagle. Prognosis is not good. The red tissue on the toes indicate frost bite or frozen tissue. The open wound was cleaned with betadine, slathered with Neosporin, then the leg was splinted and wrapped.
An eagle and a red-tailed hawk were admitted with injuries consistent with being caught in a leg-hold trap. Not the kind of injuries we like to see… unfortunately we seem to get a few in each year and these injuries are completely preventable.
Exposed bait is the problem. Raptors are visual predators and are attracted to something they might scavenge or easily catch. We have seen double trap sets (one trap set very near another) catching raptors. For example, two leghold traps set near each other... one catches a skunk that attracts and catches a great-horned owl (this was the scenario for one GHO patient a couple years ago). Do not use exposed bait while trapping. Keep traps widely spaced.
If you trap (or hunt or fish), please read the current regulations and know what is acceptable and allowable.
From the 2014-15 Iowa Hunting and Trapping regulations book:
Exposed Bait -- You cannot set or maintain any foothold or body-gripping trap or snare within 20 feet of exposed bait on land anywhere in the state, or over water in the following areas:
a) Mississippi River corridor - Allamakee, Clayton, Dubuque, Jackson, Clinton, Scott, Muscatine, Louisa, Des Moines and Lee counties.
b) Missouri River corridor - Those portions of Woodbury, Monona, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills and Fremont counties west of Interstate 29.
c) Des Moines River corridor - Boone, Dallas, Polk, Marion, Mahaska, Wapello and Van Buren counties.
“Exposed bait” means meat or viscera [soft innards] of any animal, bird, fish, amphibian or reptile with or without skin, hide or feathers that is visible to soaring birds.
This RTH was likely caught in a leghold trap. Notice the red discolored skin? This indicates frozen skin or frost bite. This happens when blood flow is cut off and/or the leg cannot be tucked up inside feathers to stay warm.
Hunters, anglers, and trappers are often our raptor rescuers! These people spend a lot of time outdoors and SOAR is so thankful that they are willing to take the time to help injured wildlife. Taking a few precautions can prevent an unintended injury or death sentence for a federally protected bird of prey.
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 observe 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.
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!