Three members of a great horned owl family got to taste freedom again last week, released at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery near Oliver.
The trio, a mom and two youngsters, spent the last 10 weeks at the SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre where they had been treated for warfarin poisoning.
SORCO manager Dale Belvedere and board chairman Dave Whitton lifted the pet carrier with the owls inside onto a ledge on one of the upper decks of the main building as they prepared to set the birds free.
One by one, with a little encouragement, the owls flew away into the vineyards to the cheers and applause of the crowd gathered below.
“It was very emotional. I’m just so glad to see that they made it through, they’re healthy and everything is OK,” said Dawn Brooks, who manages the Lakeside Resort in Oliver and who first alerted Belvedere to the owls’ plight.
“I saw the mother one night kind of hopping across the grass and then she went into a cabana and I thought something doesn’t look right. I thought, if she’s there in the morning I’ll call SORCO and she was.”
The babies, not as badly affected as the mother, were sitting in a tree not far away.
“It’s like she felt safe in the cabana and knew that the babies were nearby her,” said Brooks.
It’s thought the poisoning happened when the parents ate rodents which had ingested the poison at a nearby trailer park and then fed the owlets.
The male had not been seen for several days when Belvedere arrived. It’s thought he died from the poison.
Brooks said she is planning to talk to the man who looks after the trailer park about the matter and the use of such poison.
She also thanked Jim Wyse, Burrowing Owl’s founder, for his ongoing outstanding environmental support including SORCO and the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of B.C.
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