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Whistler Village’s wayward owl on the mend

An injured barred owl that spent at least a week evading capture is recovering down in Delta
An injured owl spotted around Whistler Village this month is reportedly on the mend.

An injured owl that proved elusive when it counted is making a speedy recovery at the OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Centre’s Delta location after it was captured last Monday, Jan. 15.

The one-year old, female barred owl led some volunteers on a week-long search through Whistler Village, being seen as far as the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and in the bright lights of the central village, where she was even filmed being approached by a man who petted her for a few seconds before she flew away (which, of course, is not advised with any wildlife).

General manager at OWL, Rob Hope, told Pique that sort of behaviour from an owl is a clear sign it wasn’t well.

“Obviously, it’s not normal for people to be able to pet them, and we want to make sure that when and if she gets released, she’ll avoid that,” he said.

Hope said the owl was captured by a local OWL volunteer and some good-hearted helpers who were searching for her for days, and it was a good thing she was finally netted.

“She does have a broken wing, and she’s compromised in her left eye, so she was probably hit by a car,” he said.

“She was able to get around, but she was not well, and people were able to pet her because she was compromised.”

Hope said the owl had her wing wrapped, and is on medication for her eye, which still needs to clear up. When she is doing better, they’ll make sure she can hunt and fly before next steps.

“She’ll be here for a bit because we’ll live-test her with live food before she’s released, we’ll put her with some wild barred owls and see how she reacts around people,” he said.

Hope said barred owls are known for how adaptable they are.

“They’re in our backyards here in the city, all the way out into the middle of the woods,” he said. “They have quite a variety of prey, and their survivability is quite great as well as a species.”

For Whistler, they are good to have around, he added.

“They’re pretty good at cleaning up rodents, they’ll also take small birds sometimes. They are good to have around as pest control,” he said.

The owl will be returned to the area when (and if) her recovery stays on track.

“She’s probably going to be another couple of weeks for the wing, and a few more days for the eye,” Hope said. “We’ll rehabilitate her and see where we end up.”

For future reference, people should not approach wild animals to pet them, Hope added.

“Giving them their space is important,” he said. “Every situation is different, unfortunately sometimes with head traumas they’re not quite normal, so they will act differently than a bird that’s been around people.”

Any questions or concerns about wildlife—specifically owls and raptors, which are OWL’s specialty—can be directed to OWL through