Owl Rescue on Busy Highway

My name is Allison Rusinko, and I am the assistant rehabilitator at Red Creek Wildlife Center. I have been a volunteer/employee at Red Creek since 2013 and this past Sunday was an experience I will never forget! This was the 2nd most amazing experience I have ever had at Red Creek; the first was helping release the two eagles this past summer. This time I got to go on my very first capture and transport rescue with Peggy, and she was a total BAD A$$!!! Now to tell you what happened!

Red Creek received a call from the Hamburg State Police who had been receiving calls about an owl at mile marker 30 along Interstate 78. Peggy asked me to help go find the owl and besides being completely scared out of mind, I was very excited and the adrenaline was pumping through my entire body.

On 78. we saw the owl, not where it was reported, but at the Cabela exit at route 61. It was huddled up as close to the median as it could get, and it was big. The Great Horned Owl was in danger of being hit again as tractor trailers and cars were zooming right by him, and we were in danger of being hit if we tried to rescue it. Peggy called the state police to let them know of the change in location and they were there in a few minutes.

The officer explained that he was going to do a rolling stop, and told us to wait until the last car had passed. He backed his car almost a full mile along the shoulder, pulled out and drove slow with his lights on to create a break in the traffic. Luckily, Peggy has done this many times and told me exactly what we were going to do. When the last truck passes, we had about 30 seconds to rescue the owl, and those 30 seconds felt like the longest 30 seconds ever.

We ran across the highway, with me coming up behind him along the median and Peggy headed straight across the highway towards the owl. With quick reflexes, Peggy scooped him up, and we ran back across the road to get out of traffic. By that time, the officer was reaching the crest of the road we were placing him in dark carrier in the back of our vehicle.

Peggy examined the owl once we returned to the center. He was lucky and received only a head injury and some minor injuries to the eyes. He will make a full recovery. Currently he is still relaxing and on medicine for any pain/swelling he has. This is definitely one day I will never forget!