Amazing Releases — Badger and Great Horned Owl

WildCare Clinic Manager Brittany Morse examines the sedated badger. Look at those teeth and claws! Photo by Alison Hermance

At WildCare, our Wildlife Hospital staff and volunteers get to see and do amazing things to help the wild animals in our care.

But everyone agrees that the very BEST part of the work we do is that moment when an animal, once sick, injured or orphaned but now healthy and vibrant, returns to his home in the wild!

This beautiful female badger arrived at the Wildlife Hospital after an encounter with some dogs. Badgers are reclusive animals, and they generally avoid people. But this one is young, so she likely found her way to a human-inhabited area after leaving her mother’s home territory to make her own way in the wild.

Whatever the reason for coming near the dogs, this badger ended up with tooth punctures in her head and face, and abrasions on her ear from the encounter.

In the Wildlife Hospital, even a young badger requires sedation to be examined. There are truly few things as fierce as a snarling and very upset badger! Watch the video below of this patient being examined for broken bones and other injuries (the high-pitched peeping in the background is an orphaned baby turkey awaiting a medical check-up).

Fortunately, this badger’s injuries weren’t severe, so, after a few days of wound treatments, a short course of antibiotics and several good meals, she was released into a wild area in the vicinity of where she was found.

Filming a badger release can be a challenge, as the animals hesitate to leave the burrow-like confines of the carrying kennel, even when the door is open. WildCare Clinic Manager Brittany Morse opted for the “leave the camera and hope for the best” method to try to document this gorgeous animal’s return home. She was thrilled with the footage her phone captured (above) of the badger walking out of the kennel directly over the lens!

Great Horned Owl in a Koi Pond

This Great Horned Owl is another Wildlife Hospital patient that is young and inexperienced, and ended up in a pickle. As with human children going off to college, this is the season when young animals leave their parents’ watchful care and start to make their way in the world. Inexperience can lead to trouble, and that’s exactly what happened to this owl!

Flying over a gorgeous koi pond in a family’s front yard, the owl may have seen the fish swimming temptingly under the water, or maybe he was chasing other prey that dodged around the pool. Either way, he ended up in the deep water, and he was probably lucky to have found a pipe close to the surface on which he could perch. Birds like owls can’t really swim, although they may successfully flop their way to shore if they fall into water. Unfortunately for this bird, the sides of the pond were too steep to allow him to escape, and once his feathers were thoroughly saturated, he couldn’t take off.

The homeowners were out of town, so it was a neighbor that saw the owl, sodden and miserable, still half-submerged in the water. A call to WildCare’s Living with Wildlife Hotline 415-456-7283 helped contact the Marin Humane Officer on duty. The officer arrived, carefully extracted the owl from the pond and brought him to WildCare.

Marin Humane Officer Andy O’Brien rescues the Great Horned Owl from the pond. Photo from Bonnie Brown

An exam showed that the bird was very chilled, and quite thin. He obviously hadn’t been successfully hunting, which may explain why he wasn’t able to overcome his dousing. Two weeks of good food in the Wildlife Hospital, however, and this owl was plump and ready to return to the wild!

A group, including the homeowners and the neighbor who had found the owl, gathered in the yard where he was found to see this beautiful raptor fly free, and the event was streamed live on the Dodo Impact Facebook page. Be sure to “like” WildCare on Facebook to see special Livestreams like this one and other fabulous behind-the-scenes insights into the Wildlife Hospital! Watch below to see this owl return to the wild.

Donate now to help us heal animals like this badger and this owl! Your gift will be MATCHED!