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Hunters Asked To Save Deer Hearts For Wildlife Rehabilitators

The Hearts Are A Good Source Of Protein For Large Birds, Like The 19 Eagles Currently At The Center

Glen Moberg/WPR

Hunters are being asked to save the hearts of the deer they harvest to help wildlife rehabilitators feed eagles and other large raptors

Marge Gibson, executive director of the Raptor Education Group wildlife center near Antigo, said hearts are a good food for the big birds because they are high protein and low fat.

“Most hunters don’t eat the heart of the deer that they harvest, and rather than leaving it in the woods for it to go to waste, this is something that we feed our birds all the time,” Gibson said. “The heart of any animal is pure muscle and raptors in particular are unable to metabolize fat, so this is a perfect food for any raptor.”

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There are 300 birds being cared for at the center, including small songbirds, owls and waterfowl. Gibson said hungry, injured eagles are being brought in all the time.

“We have 19 right now,” she said, “and they can eat up to three pounds a day, so they have a healthy appetite.”

Gibson said hunters can freeze the hearts, and bring them directly to the center, or to drop off points listed on the Raptor Education Group website. She does not want hearts from deer killed with lead ammunition, because of the poisoning risk.