PENDLETON OR — All Donna Zink was trying to do was give a badly injured barn owl a fighting chance to survive. But by keeping and caring for the owl she found about two months ago, the former Mesa mayor was breaking the law.
It is illegal to possess a migratory bird without proper permits, said Larry Klimek, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deputy project leader for the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
"We encourage turning over all injured migratory birds to a qualified rehabilitator
Zink said she was afraid that if she turned the animal to a rescue organization right away, he would be killed. Part of his wings had been crushed, he had gangrene and looked like he wasn't going to make it. So Zink said she decided to try to nurse it back to health, even though she knew she shouldn't have.
"I would do it again," she said.
On Monday, Zink gave the bird to Blue Mountain Wildlife, a Pendleton-based rescue organization for injured wildlife, mainly birds of prey.
"I'm pretty sure the bird will be able to fly," she said, but the question will be if the owl will be able to fly well enough to survive in the wild. That's something Tompkins won't know until the owl's feathers grow. The wing tips control an owl's flight, and owls hunt while on wing
The owl was not imprinted to people, Tompkins said, and although he has been habituated to people, that's fixable, she said.
If the bird isn't releasable, Tompkins said it may become an education bird. The only other option is euthanization, which neither Tompkins nor Zink wants.
People who find injured birds should take them to a licensed rehabilitator.
I hope to keep you posted about this Barn owl’s recovery.
Blue Mountain Wildlife is eastern Oregon and southeast Washington's primary wildlife rehabilitation and education facility.