- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

DECKERVILLE, Mich. (AP) - It was Super Bowl weekend, and a time for teamwork. So people from the Thumb stepped up to the challenge as they helped rescue an adult male snowy owl.

The owl is now recovering at an animal rehabilitation center in Bay City, according to the Huron Daily Tribune of Bad Axe ( https://bit.ly/MtEBMY ).

But it could have been a different ending after the owl impaled itself at the top of a utility pole carrying 40,000 volts of electricity in northern Sanilac County.

It was spotted Saturday in Custer Township by Sam Genoff of Snover, a truck driver for Blue Water Trucking. The bird was flapping about and could not free itself. Soon after, others arrived to see what they could do.

The Sandusky Community Fire Department and Sanilac County Sheriff’s Department were contacted. They summoned help from Thumb Electric and Back 2 the Wild Wildlife Rescue of Fort Gratiot.

Jim Vogel of Palms and Ray Kwiatkowski of Ubly arrived on the scene from Thumb Electric. Erin Stacks of the Fort Gratiot animal rescue service also arrived.

Vogel, who was home cutting wood when the call came in, admitted it was a different kind of call than what he is used to.

“Once in a while, a squirrel or raccoon will get up there … and usually it’s dead,” said Vogel, an eight-year veteran of the company. “This is the first time I’ve taken down something alive.”

Stacks gave advice on how to handle the owl, and Vogel new from his care of rabbits and chickens as a youngster that if you cover their eyes, they tend to calm down.

“On the way up, I was thinking, ‘How am I going to get this thing down?’”

Using Kwiatkowski’s Carhartt coat to cover the owl, Vogel approached it while up in the bucket.

“When I got up close to it, the owl’s eyes got big, and I’m sure my eyes got big,” Vogel said. “I could see he had big feet and I could see the talons on him. … You don’t know how they’re going to react.”

The owl did not panic, and Vogel was able to lift him from the pole.

Stacks said the bird probably behaved well because he was so exhausted.

“There were no breaks in his wing, which is amazing,” she said. “The bird is doing good.”

Stacks was able to have the bird treated by a veterinarian that same day. After spending the night at Fort Gratiot, the owl was transferred to Bay City where it can undergo rehabilitation and be released into the wild.

“We’re hopeful he’ll fly again,” Stacks said.

In seven years of animal rescuing, she said it was the first time she has saved a snowy owl. She said she also was able to return home in time to watch the Super Bowl after handing the owl off on Sunday. And after naming the bird “Peyton,” football fans can guess who she was cheering for.

Vogel returned to his home on Saturday, and didn’t have too much of a surprise. His wife and three children had already seen the photos of the owl on Facebook.

“They were all excited about it.”


Information from: Huron Daily Tribune, https://www.michigansthumb.com

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