Barn owl caught in fishing line

Barn owl caught in netting
Barn owl caught in netting

In mid-April two Contra Costa County agencies worked together, to save a barn owl that was in serious trouble. On April 14 a call came into Contra Costa Animal Services about a barn owl caught in fishing line and hanging from a tree. An animal control officer immediately went out to the scene. The officer saw that a barn owl was hanging from a tree limb by its right wing and was frantically trying to free itself. To complicate matters the tree limb extended over a small lake so the owl was above water. Knowing he needed help rescuing this owl, the officer contacted the fire department, who climbed the tree and cut the fishing line, dropping the owl into the water. The men were able to retrieve it by paddling with their hands to create a current that brought the owl closer to shore where they were able to reach it with a net.The owl was brought to Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s wildlife hospital. During its intake exam, it was noted that the owl was drooping its right wing (the one it had been hanging from). Although the owl did not have any fractures, staff was worried about the extent of soft tissue damage in that wing. The owl’s left wing was also swollen and darkly bruised. The owl was given an antibiotic, pain and anti-inflammatory medication and subcutaneous fluids.

Contra Costa Animal Services and Contra Costa Fire and Rescue
Contra Costa Animal Services and Contra Costa Fire and Rescue officers rescuing the barn owl

After spending a week at the hospital, the owl’s bruising and swelling improved and the bird started to hold its right wing in a more normal position. Staff test flew the owl in our large aviary and although still weak, the bird was able to fly all the way to the ceiling. The owl was then moved to an outdoor aviary where it will hopefully continue to improve. A big thank you to all involved in the rescue of this barn owl!  Help wildlife in your area by always retrieving your fishing line and if you are not a fisher, pick up discarded line when walking near waterways. Before placing it in the garbage, cut it into 6–12″ pieces so wildlife cannot become entangled in it. Used monofilament can also be recycled at many marinas and tackle shops.

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