Rehabilitation and Release of a Snowy Owl
December 2001 to January 19, 2002

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These pictures chronicle the six week ordeal of a female Snowy Owl who had become ensnared in a fishing lure on the shores of Lake Erie near Port Clinton, Ohio.

The Snowy Owl came to the Back To The Wild Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in December 2001. Her wounds were tended by and she was nursed back to health by Mona Rutger at Back To The Wild. The Snowy Owl was released January 19, 2002 at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area at Crane Creek, located between Toledo and Port Clinton, Ohio.

The Snowy Owl as she first appeared at the Back To The Wild center. There were a total of six fish hooks in her feet and beak from the two treble hooks of the fishing lure. The hooks were still embedded in her feet when she arrived at Back To The Wild. She had torn her beak free from the hooks while on the Lake Erie beach before being rescued by Jeff Crosby, a worker at a nearby factory. Thanks to Jeff's quick response and calling for assistance, the owl has survived.

Fortunately, she was very alert and not seriously maimed by the hooks. Her main injuries were to her beak and mouth area and both of her feet.

Antibiotics were administered and she was confined in a small enclosure to keep her quiet.

She was soon placed in a flight cage to exercise her wings and for observation.

The flight cage construction gives excellent circulation of outside air.

In the winter, snow accumulates in the flight cage dirt floor. She probably felt at home with the snow and the cold temperatures of late-December and early-January.

Fortunately, her ability to fly was not affected by her ordeal with the fishing lure. She quickly began exercising her wings in the flight cage in preparation of her release. The flight cage allows her to fly without injuring her flight feathers. The smooth, slatted walls allow for ventilation and also prevent the bird from striking ledges, etc. It is a conditioning cage or pre-release cage with special perches.

Her release was widely publicized in the area. Approximately one-hundred people showed up at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area at Crane Creek to observe the release. Many people gathered while Mona explained the situation with the Snowy Owl's injury and recovery. She also explained the Snowy Owl's natural habitat in the Arctic tundra and how each year a few of these wonderful creatures from the far north appear in Ohio during the winter months.

Prior to her release, the owl was banded by Mark Shieldcastle, a State Wildlife Biologist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The banding will allow us to monitor when and where she was released and how long she may live in the wild.

Mona explained the rescue and rehabilitation process to the attentive audience. She explained how such a beautiful bird could never be happy in confinement.

On January 19, 2002, Mona released the Snowy Owl from the top level of the observation deck at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area at Crane Creek.

The Snowy Owl was anxious to be free again.

With no hesitation, the Snowy Owl flew from Mona's hands to the east.

A wonderful sight to see - a wild bird, injured by a man-made device, but rescued, rehabilitated, and released by caring individuals.

Free at last!

A picture of health despite the ordeal through which she went.


The Snowy Owl flew about 100 meters to the east before turning and alighting on the peak of the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area visitor center.




NOTICE: This is a page for the BACK TO THE WILD wildlife rehabilitation center in Castalia, Ohio. This material is used with permission. Most of this material is copyrighted by the BACK TO THE WILD wildlife rehabilitation center.

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