Snowy owl rescued from Milwaukee recycling plant, recovering

Snowy Owl rescued from Milwaukee Recycling Center (Courtesy: Wisconsin Humane Society)

A snowy owl found covered in diesel at a Milwaukee recycling center is now recovering, the Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) reported on Tuesday, December 7.

The WHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center received a call on Friday regarding the large bird. When the appellant sent a picture, staff immediately recognized the very dirty snowy owl and sent a rescue volunteer to bring it in for rehabilitation.

During an initial examination, staff discovered that the owl was covered in diesel and an oil-based substance. The contaminants had made the bird hypothermic and the animal had ingested the substance in an attempt to cleanse itself. As a result, the WHS said the owl was in respiratory distress.

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The snowy owl would not have survived with human intervention, the WHS said; the bird was “incredibly weak” and needed stabilization. Rehabilitation workers bathed the bird, removing most of the contaminants from the feathers and skin. Now much cleaner, the owl will still need a final bath to remove the last bit of oil and will be treated for additional wounds and scrapes.

The owl’s prognosis is still guarded, the WHS said, but it has started to eat on its own and is starting to show appropriate “nerve and attitude” towards keepers.

Snowy Owls breed as far north as the Arctic Circle, but occasionally migrate south, including to Wisconsin, during winters. The WHS said there is still a lot to learn about the species, but Wisconsin wildlife rehabilitators know from experience that this species – especially first-year birds – is often inexperienced in the hyper- urban city and can sometimes find its way. In trouble.

Wild Lights At The Zoo is restarting

This holiday season, you can walk the Milwaukee County Zoo’s Snow Globe and admire light displays, tasty food and drink.

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