U.P. owl recovering after being shot by pellet gun

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CHOCOLAY TOWNSHIP — An Upper Peninsula owl was shot by a pellet gun near Lake Linden – which has sparked the urge by officials to remind people that shooting protected birds is illegal. 

“It was spotted in the road, sitting there, and our colleague Michelle Anderson went and picked him up and she found a wound,” said Bob Jensen, Co-Founder of the Chocolay Raptor Center. “And didn’t find out until the x-ray came in that there was a pellet right at the elbow. So now our little guy is down here with us, our great horned owl.”

After bringing the owl to the vet it was determined that it would cause too much harm to the bird to remove the bullet. The hope is that the wound will heal despite the bullet and that the owl will be well enough to fly and return to the wild.

Jensen added, “If it’s capable of flying and taking care of itself, we are obligated to release it. If we determine that he can’t fly well enough, because we’ll put him out in our flight cage, then we have a choice. We have to place him somewhere, which is with us or some other licensed facility. Or we have to euthanize him.”

Unfortunately, this is a common problem with protected birds in our area. But it’s not without consequence.

“They see them as a nuisance or they see them as an animal that eats grouse and those types of things. So they shoot them and it’s a protected animal and they have their place just like any other animal in the wild,” said Pete Wright, Lieutenant with the Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division.

If you are found guilty of this crime, you could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $100 to $1,000. So

Jensen says, “There’s heavy penalties and we’ll do our best to find out who did it.”

The DNR wants to remind trappers to cover their traps so birds flying overhead don’t see them and hunters can reference the Michigan hunting digest for a list of protected birds.

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