I Discovered a Great Horned Owl Trapped in a Leghold Trap

DougonRumblePublished: January 26, 2018
Published: January 26, 2018

I was pedaling through the wilderness when I noticed a pair of ears sticking up over the bank and thought it was a Bobcat. I stopped and got out my video camera. Bobcats are reclusive, so I wondered why it hadn't left the area as I approached. I then discovered the ears belonged to an Owl that had gotten its leg caught in a leghold trap. Then I had to figure out a way to free it without getting bitten or clawed. I also wanted to minimize its trauma. Finally I came up with a solution and freed the raptor. It wasn't happy. I don't expect gratitude, I did it because I couldn't stand to see the poor guy in such a predicament.
I called the Michigan DNR and reported the incident. They investigated, and the trap was legally set. Best trapping practices say a baited trap must not be visible from the air or it will catch raptors, which is illegal. But I didn't see bait, maybe the Owl had gotten trapped, eaten the bait, and then I found him. No matter, the DNR talked with the trapper and he didn't mean to trap an Owl. That's all they told me. I was initially angry with the trapper for catching an Owl but the DNR knows what the law is and knows what they're doing and the Owl, once his feathers were dry, was free to fly away. That was my goal when I found him, so all is well.

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