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Snowy Owl recovering after being found covered in diesel at Milwaukee recycling center

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Posted at 3:07 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 16:08:26-05

MILWAUKEE — A Snowy Owl is making a positive recovery after being spotted at a Milwaukee recycling center last Friday covered in diesel and an oil-based substance, looking "exhausted" and "miserable."

The Wisconsin Humane Society's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center received a call from an onlooker after the person spotted the owl. WHS sent out a rescue volunteer to bring the owl into care.

Staff found the owl exhausted and covered in diesel and an oil-based substance. The contaminants in turn rendered her hypothermic as she had been eating the oily mixture in a desperate attempt to clean herself, WHS said. She had also been in respiratory distress.

"This poor Snowy Owl absolutely could not survive without human intervention. She was incredibly weak and needed stabilization to prepare her for sedation. WHS rehabilitators gowned up and bathed her, removing most of the contaminants from her feathers and skin," according to a statement from the Humane Society.

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The Snowy Owl

The WHS explains Snowy Owls have an extensive amount of insulative feathers that require meticulous cleaning. After the owl was washed a complex process of drying was required.

The owl is much cleaner now but still needs one final bath and treatment for injuries and abrasions.

"The owl’s prognosis is still guarded, but she just started to eat on her own and is beginning to show appropriate wild animal sass and attitude toward her caretakers – something they’re always grateful to see in wild patients," WHS writes.

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Snowy Owls breed in Canada and Alaska in the Arctic Circle but they do sometimes migrate south to places like Wisconsin.

"There is still much to be learned about this charismatic and exceptionally resilient species, but Wisconsin wildlife rehabilitators do know from experience that this species – especially first-year birds – are often inexperienced in the hyper-urban environment of the city and can sometimes find their way into trouble. Remember, the Arctic tundra doesn’t even have trees! What a debacle this bird was in - covered in diesel and oil in this unrecognizable, densely populated urban center. Thankfully, she’s now on a road to recovery," according to WHS.

If you find a wild animal in need of care, they have a tip line here. You can also donate to the WHS here.

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