(BEDFORD) - Andy Harrell was hunting mushrooms on his property east of Bedford last weekend when he came upon a great-horned owl caught in a barbed wire fence.
Carol Johnson of the Times-Mail reports that the owl was alive but badly hurt. Owls are nocturnal hunters, so it had likely been there several hours.
Harrell made several phone calls and two volunteers from the Indiana Raptor Center in Brown County along with the help of Harrell and his brother Rocky were able to free the owl. Patti Reynolds, president of the Indiana Raptor Center says, the owl is recovering from his injury at the Indiana Raptor Center outside of Nashville but will likely never fly again, if he survives the injury.
The owl was treated by veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Clarke of Franklin and is still on medication for pain. Clark is hoping to use a procedure that encourages muscle and skin growth, to save the full-grown male owl's life. Reynolds says the owl is between 2 to 3 years old.
Reynolds is concerned there may be a nest and little ones that now need help.
"This is when the moms are sitting on (a nest with) 4-week old babies, so dad is doing a lot of hunting to help feed the family. So if he had a family, she will have to come off the nest and hunt, which leaves the babies vulnerable to weather and predators. We've asked the property owner to patrol his property and find the nest and we'll help out if we can."
Raptors flying into barbed wire fences is, unfortunately, all too common, said Reynolds, and causes devastating injuries.
Reynolds, who operates the center along with Laura Edmunds, vice president and education director, said they won't be able to keep the owl once he recovers.
But she hopes to find a reputable raptor or wildlife center where he can serve as an education bird.
"What is so important about protecting birds of prey is their valuable effect on our food supply because of rodent control. It's important not to put out poison bait because it gets into the food chain."
According to the Indiana Raptor Center web site, a pair of adult owls can catch and dispose of about 600 mice (each mouse causes $25 of crop damage) in a year at a potential savings of $15,000 on a large farm.
Tour of the Indiana Raptor Center are by appointment only. To find out about a tour or to arrange for a raptor education program, call (812) 988-8990.
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