MILWAUKEE — Against all odds, the Snowy Owl will spread her wings again.
On December 3, 2021, the snowy owl named “Annabelle” was sent to The Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, after an oil spill in the Milwaukee River.
An employee at a recycling center in Milwaukee discovered the Snowy Owl in terrible condition. The owl was covered in oil, hypothermic, and in respiratory distress.
At the wildlife rehabilitation center, the staff noticed that the owl also suffered soft tissue injuries to the wrist part of her wings from struggling to fly as she was weighed down by oil.
The Snowy Owl’s treatment included baths to remove the oil and contaminants, medications, bandage changes, on-site and off-site visits with veterinary specialists, and flight reconditioning.
Without human interaction and treatment, the Snowy Owl would not have survived, the human society said.
“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.
Sunday morning, rehabilitators took the Snowy Owl several hours north to an area where there have been recent Snowy Owl sightings and set Annabelle free.
She now has a second chance at life as she begins her northern migration back to the Arctic Circle.
The WHS also took in a Canada Goose on December 11, 2021, which was also covered in oil and contaminated. After several weeks of treatment, the goose returned to the Milwaukee area fully recovered.
“We’d like to extend our thanks to Komatsu Mining for their financial support of both patients’ ongoing care, as well as other amazing donors who made contributions to support these special patients,” said Crystal Sharlow-Schaefer, wildlife director. “I can’t express what a joy and relief it was to see the Snowy Owl soar off into the skies today.”