A wounded large horned owl recovers at Bend Wildlife Hospital after a barbed wire fence gets tangled up

It’s not uncommon – another owl that was injured recently was humanely killed after a similar encounter

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Last week, Bend Wildlife Hospital and Think Wild Conservation Center received a call from the Bear Creek Solar Center, just half a mile away. While inspecting the solar field, a worker noticed a large flying bird struggling to free itself from the barbed wire fence surrounding the property.

The worker immediately called Think Wild, and a staff member and volunteer responded with personal protective equipment and wire cutters. They discovered that the clinging bird was a large, newborn horned owl, likely no more than 4 weeks old.

Although the Think Wild responders freed the owl, a piece of wire remained deeply attached to the left wing, requiring immediate transport to the Wildlife Hospital.

Upon pickup at Think Wild and carefully removing the piece of barbed wire, staff assessed the extent of the injuries. In addition to the puncture wound from the wire, most of the primary and secondary feathers were also bent and broken due to the owl’s struggle to break free. These feathers are essential for flight and take time to heal and regrow.

“The owl sustained multiple punctures of spines, as well as injury to the soft tissues of the wing, but fortunately no fractures,” said Pauline Hayes, director of wildlife rehabilitation at Think Wild.

The Think Wild staff and volunteers treat the newborn owl with antibiotics, wing fixation, physical therapy, and laser therapy, which reduce swelling and pain and help speed up the healing process. The owl was also hand fed using an adult owl hand puppet to prevent imprinting on humans.

“We expect to continue treating and rehabilitating the owl for another month and are optimistic about their full recovery and release,” Hayes said.

“This is the first bird entangled in barbed wire since I started earlier in the summer and there was no need for humane euthanasia, so this is a surprisingly good prognosis,” says Molly Honea, Wildlife Hotline Coordinator at Think Wild and one – Responding to the call.

Each year, Think Wild receives numerous calls to owls, hawks, hawks, songbirds, and mammals that become entangled in a barbed wire fence. Many people there struggle to die. Others are rescued and taken to hospital, but their injuries are usually so severe that euthanasia is the only alternative.

In fact, only a few days before the last rescue, a great horned owl had to be humanely killed after entangling barbed wire.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to prevent these accidents—installing wildlife-safe alternatives to barbed wire fences. You can read about some alternative fencing options and wildlife considerations On Think Wild.

The Deschutes County Department of Juvenile Community Justice will also remove and recycle broken barbed wire that has fallen to the ground, partially buried, or no longer used for livestock fencing at no cost. For more information about this program, call Sam Bachman at (541) 322-7650.


About Think Wild

Think Wild is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located in Bend, Oregon. Our mission is to inspire the High Desert community to care for and protect local wildlife through rescue, rehabilitation, outreach, education, and conservation. We provide veterinary treatment and care at the Wildlife Hospital, staffed by a staff of dedicated wildlife rehabilitation experts, animal husbandry volunteers, and rotating veterinarians. Wildlife-related conflicts or injuries can be reported through the Wildlife Hotline at (541) 241-8680 seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit us online at thinkwildco.orgor in InstagramAnd the FacebookAnd the Twitter Tweet embed