Coulee Region Humane Society helps injured owl heal by thinking outside the box

Local News

 The Coulee Region Humane Society in Onalaska has been open since 1971.

Over the years, many domestic animals like dogs, cats, and guinea pigs have been cared for. However, the society also cares for other types of animals as well.

“We also do wildlife rehabilitation down here and that’s the part that many people in the community don’t know that we do,” said Kathy KasaKaitas, the wildlife rehabilitator at Coulee Region Humane Society.

The wildlife program has cared for hundreds of waterbirds, squirrels and hawks.

On Nov. 5, the CRHS was contacted by a Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy regarding an injured owl.

“He called and said that he had an injured screech owl, so I met him halfway on the county line and picked it up,” KasaKaitas said.

However, the wildlife rehabilitator was in for a surprise when she got back and opened the box.

“[It was] a tiny little Saw-whet owl,” KasaKaitas said. “I’ve been here ten years and this is my first Saw-whet and I’ve always wanted to see one close-up.”

The Saw-whet owl was full-size at just three ounces.

The CRHS suspects the owl was hit by a car, as it arrived with a fractured leg.

A local vet and KasaKaitas worked together to figure out a way to make a splint for the tiny bird. Their solution was a creative one.

“What you do is take a normal drinking straw, measure how much space you need, cut it down and it molds right around the leg,” KasaKaitas said.

The humane society says this isn’t the first time that they’ve had to get creative when it comes to helping injured wildlife.

“When we do songbirds something as small as a house finch or a sparrow, sometimes we’ve used paperclips,” KasaKaitas said. “They bend the same direction as a bird leg.”

The society is hopeful the Saw-whet owl’s splint will come off later this week.

Next, the owl will work on feeding itself and flying and landing on a perch.

“Our ultimate goal is to get it back out where it belongs,” KasaKaitas said.

The Coulee Region Humane Society hopes to release the owl back in Jackson County either this winter or next spring.

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