When a driver traveling south of Regina saw an owl fly in front of her Tahoe truck, she expected the worst.
But, when she pulled over to investigate the damage she got a surprise: the owl was not only alive, it was trapped in her truck’s front grille.
Regina wildlife rehabilitation centre, Salthaven West, was quickly called to the scene. Director Megan Lawrence wasn’t shocked that an owl had been hit by a car, but she was shocked by the scene they came upon.
“It’s definitely common that owls and other wildlife get hit by vehicles, but this is the first time we’ve ever attended where one’s still been stuck inside the vehicle after being hit,” she told the CBC.
Rescuers worked quickly to extract the owl from the truck. They were concerned about the extent of the bird’s injuries as well as it suffering from a cold-weather injury—the temperature was hovering near -30.
“The faster we get an animal for treatment, the better chance it has for recovery,” Lawrence said.
“I’m lucky I was just able to get over there right away and get him out.”
While owls are known for being violent when threatened, this snowy owl was calm as Lawrence pulled it from the truck, which told her it was suffering from extensive injuries.
After attending to the worst of the bird’s injuries, West rushed it to the Animal Clinic of Regina where it was confirmed that the owl was suffering from a broken wing and a concussion.
Initially things looked pretty dire, then, over the course of 24 hours, the owl began showing signs of recovery.
“When we first got him, he spent a lot of time laying down and now he’s standing up all the time, which is a great sign,” said Lawrence.
She is cautiously optimistic about the bird’s recovery.
“I think everyone involved made a difference and will definitely contribute towards getting him healthy and back out to the wild.”
The owl, who has been nicknamed “Tahoe”, will spend at least the next six weeks recovering. Eventually, his flight and sight will be tested and if he looks strong enough, he’ll be released back into the wild.
Lawrence told Global News that she’s seen a steady rise in snow owl injury since Salthaven West was opened.
“Animals don’t know to look both ways before they cross the road, so once they get their eyes on some prey they’re going to follow it until they catch it. And of course in the Arctic, where they come from, there’s not a lot of vehicle traffic. They’re not used to that at all.”
Snowy owls were recently listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature—just a step away from endangered.