May 8, 2012

Barn owl caught on line

This morning, we were called out on an emergency involving a barn owl caught on some sort of line - either kite string or fishing line. It was tangled by its leg and snagged on branches of a cottonwood tree, some 30' high. Duane, Rebecca and Ron Eby responded.

The situation was dire. The animal was exposed to full sun, and the temperature was rising. In its panicked state, the animal could easily overheat. To complicate matters, the tree was located at the back of a residential property with no way to drive in a mechanical lift. Even if we could bring in heavy equipment, the ground was saturated and boggy.

Duane and Ron laid out wooden planks on which they set a tall ladder. For extra security, they tied the ladder to posts driven into the ground. Hoping to secure the line and lower the entangled raptor to the ground, Duane used an especially long pole with a hook on the end.

He managed to get hold of the line, but, unfortunately, the line snapped and the owl flew off to a grove of trees, blocks away.

The good news is that the line remaining on the bird's foot was now very short - something we hope the owl can manage to work off.

If WildRescue receives any reports of this owl being sighted, a team will try to trap the animal so the rest of the line can be removed.

Interestingly, the team found a freshly killed gopher in the grass below the entangled owl. Piecing together bits of information, they believe the owl snatched the gopher from a nearby yard and may have picked up the line at the same time. As the owl was flying, trailing some 20' of line, the line got caught up in the branches of the cottonwood.

This is a great example of how litter, like discarded line or string, can be a real threat to wildlife. Be sure to pick up any pieces of line you find, and dispose of it properly. Long pieces should be cut up before its thrown away.