Driver stops to rescue owl trapped in barbed wire fence

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 10:04 AM CDT
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FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. (KNXV) - An owl, trapped in a barbed wire fence along an Arizona highway, is now recovering thanks to the efforts of two good Samaritans.

Most people drove by the stuck owl, but not Jeff Miller. He turned around and went back for it after spotting the bird.

“I really wanted to get up there to try and get it off the fence,” Miller said. “And stop it from suffering and possibly hurting itself more.”

Miller covered the bird with his overshirt in order to keep it calm as he tried to free it.

“The first wing came off pretty easily, but the second one, the flesh was really wrapped up in barbed wire,” Miller said, but he wasn’t about to give up.

As he worked to free the owl, Amy Burnett, an Arizona Game and Fish Department employee, got a text from a friend who had driven by the rescue effort.

“I just grabbed my wire cutters and my big thick gloves and a carrier, and I drove out there as fast as I legally could,” Burnett said. “And, sure enough, he was still there.”

The two worked together to free the owl. They cut the wire around the wing, leaving a section of it lodged in the owl.

Then Burnett, who has experience saving owls as part of her job, drove the bird to Liberty Wildlife where a medical team immediately got to work.

“Luckily we didn’t see any breaks to the wings and anywhere else, so it looked healthy everywhere else,” Laura Hackett, a wildlife biologist at the Liberty Wildlife.

The owl, named Barbed Wire Owl, is now recovering at the Liberty Wildlife ICU.

Hackett said incidents like this are common with owls because they become “laser-focused” when hunting for food.

“What happens with these owls is they are so laser-focused on their food, and they’re going to swoop down and go after it without thinking of anything else around them,” Hackett said. “It’s what leads them to get hit by cars when they’re flying at night to get their food.”

Burnett said the fate of Barbed Wire Owl would have been tragic if not for Miller’s decision to stop.

“If it weren’t for him, this bird would’ve died on that fence,” Burnett said. “I’m just really grateful he was there, and he stopped.”

Barbed Wire Owl will be released back into the desert once its wing has healed.

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