Think Wild wildlife hospital staff care for young great horned owl

Injured great horned owl recovers at Bend Wildlife Hospital after entanglement in barbed wire

It’s not uncommon – another injured owl recently had to be humanely euthanized after a similar encounter

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Last week, the Think Wild animal hospital and conservation center in Bend received a call from the Bear Creek Solar Center, just half a mile away. While inspecting the solar field, a worker noticed a large bird struggling to free itself from the barbed wire fence surrounding the site.

The worker immediately called Think Wild and an employee and volunteer responded with personal protective equipment and wire cutters. They found that the entangled bird was a young great horned owl, probably no more than 4 weeks old.

Although Think Wild rescuers freed the owl, a length of wire remained lodged deep in the left wing, necessitating immediate transport to the animal hospital.

Upon admission to Think Wild and careful removal of the barbed wire, staff assessed the extent of the injuries. In addition to the wire puncture wound, most of the primary and secondary springs were also bent and broken as a result of the owl’s struggle to break free. These feathers are essential for flying and need time to heal and regrow.

“The owl sustained multiple puncture wounds from the barbs, as well as trauma to the soft tissue of the wing, but thankfully no fractures,” said Pauline Hice, director of Wildlife Rehabilitation at Think Wild.

Think Wild’s staff and volunteers treat the owlet with antibiotics, wing stabilization, physical therapy and laser therapy, which reduce swelling and pain and help speed up the healing process. The owl was also hand fed using an adult owl hand puppet to avoid getting imprints on humans.

“We expect to continue treatment and rehabilitation of the owl for another month and are optimistic about a full recovery and release,” Hice said.

“This is the first barbed-wire entangled bird since I started earlier in the summer that didn’t require humane euthanasia, so this is a surprisingly good prognosis,” said Molly Honea, Think Wild’s Wildlife Hotline Coordinator and one of the — site responders to the call.

Each year, Think Wild receives numerous calls for owls, falcons, hawks, songbirds, and mammals entangled in barbed wire. Many struggle there until they die. Others are rescued and taken to hospital, but their injuries are usually so severe that euthanasia is the only alternative.

In fact, just days before this most recent rescue, another great horned owl had to be humanely euthanized after entanglement in barbed wire.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to prevent these incidents: installing nature-safe alternatives to barbed wire fencing. You can read about some alternative fencing options and wildlife considerations on the Think Wild website

The Deschutes County Juvenile Community Justice Department will also remove and recycle free non-functional barbed wire that has fallen to the ground, has been partially buried, or is no longer used to fence livestock. For more information about this program, please contact Sam Bachman at (541) 322-7650.

About Think Wild

Think Wild is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Bend, Oregon. Our mission is to inspire the High Desert community to care for and protect native wildlife through rescue and rehabilitation, outreach and education, and conservation. We provide veterinary treatment and care in the wildlife hospital, staffed by expert wildlife rehabilitation personnel, livestock volunteers, and rotating vets. Conflicts or injuries with wildlife can be reported through our Wildlife Hotline at (541) 241-8680, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit us online at thinkwildco.orgor on Instagramfacebookand Twitter @thinkwildco.

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