Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus)
During the summer of 2015, Northern Saskatchewan saw 532 wildfires burn a staggering 700,991 hectares. An estimated 13,000 people were displaced and relocated to evacuation shelters further south in the province. Often overlooked, was the impact these fires had on the native wildlife. Lola, a great horned owl, was found in distress by a La Ronge area resident and turned over to provincial conservation officers. She had suffered burn damage to the majority of her wing feathers – leaving her flightless and unable to find prey.
The Wild and Exotic Animal Medicine Society (WEAMS: www.usask.ca/groups/weams/) is a non-profit organization operated by student volunteers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and has been caring for Lola since mid-July. She is expected to make a complete recovery and weather permitting, will be released as soon as her damaged feathers molt – which will likely be the spring of 2016.
Standing face to face with such an impressive predator was an incredibly humbling experience. I can’t quite pinpoint what exactly commanded more respect – her eyes, her beak or the knowledge that it requires twenty-eight pounds of force to open the talons of a great horned owl once they slam shut. Needless to say, It’s certainly an experience I won’t soon forget.
For more information about WEAMS and their amazing work, here’s a more comprehensive article: words.usask.ca/wcvm/2013/07/wcvm-students-go-wild-for-wil...