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An injured snowy owl was rescued on Christmas. His recovery in Centre County is far from over.

A snowy owl was rescued at Smithfield state prison in Huntingdon and is recovering at Centre Wildlife Care in Port Matilda.
A snowy owl was rescued at Smithfield state prison in Huntingdon and is recovering at Centre Wildlife Care in Port Matilda. Photo provided

He doesn’t have a name, a healthy wing or many of his kind in Centre County.

He was lucky to have a few friends on Christmas.

The juvenile snowy owl, a species rarely seen in central Pennsylvania, was trapped in an enclosed area at Smithfield state prison in Huntingdon. One of his wings was bloody and staff didn’t know what to do until an employee contacted Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Amanda Isett who stopped what she doing and drove to the prison.

“I was excited to see a snowy owl, but handling one is a whole new ballgame,” Isett said. “I just wish it was a healthy snowy owl and not injured.”

Isett was allowed to bring a crate, net, Army blanket and gloves into the facility, but had to leave tools like wire cutters in her vehicle, which made for a potentially difficult rescue. The owl tried to fly away from Isett toward a razor wire fence, each time gliding about one foot off the ground. Isett caught the owl in her net on the third flight.

The rescue was the “best” Christmas gift Isett could have gotten.

The owl was transported by a volunteer, Charlotte Simpson, to Centre Wildlife Care in Port Matilda where the owl will recover for an undetermined amount of time. CWC Director Robyn Graboski called the snowy owl the “unicorn of the bird world.”

Graboski said the owl has a skin tear and broken feathers, likely from the razor wire fence. The owl is on antibiotics, pain medication and will need to undergo a procedure to glue new feathers to the broken ones.

“His broken feathers are my biggest concern,” Graboski said. “He’ll be with us for a while, and we’re still changing the wound bandages.”

The snowy owl, which migrate south when food supply in the Artic region is low, will be transported to Canada when he recovers from his injuries.

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli

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