Massachusetts Police Sergeant Becomes Owl Rescuer Twice in 3-Month Span
Lifestyle| | By Robin Milling
Massachusetts police sergeant Donald Bates became an unintentional owl rescuer after discovering two injured birds of prey while on duty. He was at the right place at the right time – twice as a matter of fact – to save two owls from what could’ve been their untimely end. The Whately Police Sergeant said that it was the keen eye of passing motorists discovering the injured owls — one in October 7 and one on January 17.
“I have been fortunate enough to be the officer in duty at the time of the calls,” Bates wrote to Your Daily Dish.
The Whately Police Department took to Facebook to describe the event. The post read, “On January 17, 2017 — Shortly after 3:00 p.m., Whately Police Department received a call from a resident stating that an owl appeared to have been struck by a car on Long Plain Road near the Hatfield town line. Sergeant Bates responded to find a Barred Owl standing in the roadway looking around. The owl appeared to have a leg injury and was not flying away. Sergeant Bates was able to calmly wrap the owl in a blanket and transported the owl to a rehabilitation center in Conway.”
“It was the first time I had interaction with an owl,” Bates wrote to Your Daily Dish. “He looked to be in bad shape at the time as he was not attempting to get away at all. I called the Massachusetts Environmental Police and spoke with an officer from our area. After a brief discussion, I tried to get the owl to grab onto a stick to occupy its talons. That didn’t work. I grabbed a blanket from the cruiser and the woman who called found a box in her car. I was able to pick up the owl and put him in the box. I wrapped him up to keep him from spreading his wings in case one or both were injured.”
The prevented fate of the second owl was quicker due to Sgt. Bates’ previous knowledge. Luckily he was also on duty at the time when the second owl was struck by a motorist.
“I got the call when I was at the police station and grabbed a plastic tote tub and headed to where the owl was,” Bates wrote to Your Daily Dish. “The woman who called it in was still there and the owl was looking at her. I approached it from the rear with a blanket. The owl did not make an attempt to move at all. I was able to wrap this owl up immediately and got its head uncovered. If the owl had a hurt wing or leg, which is what I initially was thinking, I did not want it to be able to move it much. I placed the owl in the plastic tote and called the rehabilitation center in Conway.”
At the Massachusetts Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Center, Sgt. Bates handed the second injured owl to Tom Ricardi, a wildlife rehabilitator who specializes in raptor rescues. While there, he inquired about the first owl who was recovering nicely from a broken leg and a pulled muscle in the wing.
It seems these two injured owl cases have been receiving quite a lot of attention, making Sgt. Bates somewhat of an owl hero to his friends and family.
“As for my family and friends, they think it is pretty cool,” he wrote to Your Daily Dish. “I’m still at shock as to where the story goes. The first owl made WMUR news in Manchester, NH where my parents and sister both called saying they saw me in the news. Then the next day my dad told me he heard it on WHDH out of Boston I believe. It’s just pretty cool, as a police officer, to have something other than negative publicity for police departments.”
The rehabilitation center had good news for Sgt. Bates as the first rescued owl will be ready for release during the first weekend in February. Bates will have the honors to set it free.
“It appears that I will be able to release the owl at my choice of locations in Whately,” Donald Bates wrote to Your Daily Dish. “My wife named the first owl Oscar and has me call Mr. Ricardi frequently to check Oscar’s health status. She is very excited to have Oscar released close to our house. I’m presently making a couple of owl houses to put up near the swampy area (where) he will be released. My wife has even named this new owl Olivia. I have yet to confirm with Mr. Ricardi how Olivia is doing. I have a call into him as I write this. I just hope it’s a female for my wife’s sake!!”