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Patient Update: Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl caught in fence

On a Friday afternoon near the end of December 2023, Calgary Wildlife got an

emergency call from a landowner in Wheatland County informing us that a Snow Owl had gotten caught in their barbed wire fencing. They had carefully cut the barbed wire and gotten the owl into a box, leaving the barbed wire embedded in the owl’s wing for the time being. This would be the best-advised process for wildlife who have been caught in netting or fencing-type material to cut further away from the animal to free it so it can be transported to help and then have a professional remove the material from the animal to prevent causing further damage. 

Upon arrival at Calgary Wildlife, the Snowy Owl was examined by rehabilitation staff and then our vet was contacted to have the protruding barbed wire surgically removed. There was about two inches of barbed wire piercing through the skin and muscle of the patagium (the thin fold of skin between the shoulder and the wrist on the wing of a bird).

Our veterinarian sedated the owl before removing the barbed wire and during the process found that there was significant bruising to the tissue surrounding the puncture wound. Due to the bruising, the wound could not be immediately sutured closed so it was left open for a few days to heal. After the bruising had some time to heal, the owl was put under anesthesia to stitch up the wound. The owl was also treated with painkillers and an antibiotic to prevent infection and promote comfort and healing.

After just over two weeks the sutures were able to be removed. The Snowy Owl was then moved to an outdoor enclosure to condition for release. Once the owl was observed flying well and catching prey it came time for release. In this case, the person who found of the owl was contacted and was able to be present for the release alongside a rehabilitator from Calgary Wildlife. It was a joyous and emotional occasion for everyone present as the owl flew off into the distance back to where it came from. 

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