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A Guide to the Rehabilitation of Barn Owls and Other Raptors

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"Help! There is an owl on the ground!"

Capturing and Transporting a Barn Owl

Tips for Handleing Injured Raptors

What to Do In a Wildlife Emergency

Locating a wildlife rehabilitator in your area

Issues Relative to Wildlife Rehabilitation

Before attempting to rehabilitate any owl, hawk or eagle, there are several serious considerations.

Legal Issues: Possession of any native species of bird in the United States, for any purpose, is prohibited by law unless the individual is licenses for that particular reason. Rehabilitators must be licensed by the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and any applicable state wildlife or conservation agency. In California, this is the State Department of Fish and Game.

Medical and Dietary Issues: Many routine procedures require knowledge beyond that possessed by the general public, regardless of their interest or willing. For example, injured birds are frequently suffering from shock and dehydration and starving. If they are to survive, they must immediately receive special fluid diets to reduce shock and assist in re-hydration. This requires the skill of a trained, experienced person, frequently with the assistance of a professional veterinarian. Often, bones must be set, wounds mended and antibiotics administered. As well, all raptors require special diets, particularly sick or injured ones. Feeding the bird water or meat, regardless of the quality, may well result in death.

Financial Issues: There are many expenses involved with rehabilitating a wild animal, such as food, shelter and medical services. In the majority of cases, unless the rehabilitation center is under the guidance of a university or other public institution, these cost are the exclusive burden of the individual who has accepted the responsibility. There is no source of public aid for compensation of expenses made on behalf of saving wildlife. Rehabilitators also work closely with professionally trained and licensed veterinarians who frequently donate time and materials. These services may be unavailable to the unlicenced, general public.

Danger to Humans: Wildlife in all forms, reacts to human intervention on an instinctive level, responding with a fight-or-flight reaction. Raptors are no different. As written in The Raptor Center: "Even a seriously injured raptor is potentially dangerous. It has no way of knowing that a person is trying to help. It will perceive any action as a direct threat and react accordingly. Raptors are quite unpredictable, and a well intentioned person should be particularly aware of the birds talons and beak. Docile birds are probably suffering from life threatening shock or are paralyzed with fear, but should still be considered to be capable of inflicting injury."