Injured owl recovering after Great Barrington Police Officer renders aid

A great horned owl is on the mend thanks to assistance from Great Barrington Police Officer Olivia Cobb. (Photo contributed)

GREAT BARRINGTON — A great horned owl is on the mend thanks to the quick-thinking of a local police officer.
While on duty on the evening of Monday, Dec. 23, Great Barrington Police Officer Olivia Cobb noticed a vehicle pulled over to the side of the road on Route 7 near Fiddleheads Grille. When she stopped and hopped out of her cruiser, Cobb spotted a great horned owl laying on the ground.
“(It) wasn’t moving and had clearly been injured,” Cobb recalled. “So, I scooped the owl up like an infant, turned down the radio [in my cruiser] and brought it back to the station.”
Cobb, a native of Litchfield County, Connecticut, considers herself an avid animal lover and has been around wildlife most of her life. Her brother, she says, is also a Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection police officer and has an understanding of how to treat injured animals.
Cobb, who has been a police officer for more than three years in Great Barrington, said that she is a frequent visitor of the Sharon Audubon Center in Sharon, Connecticut. The center serves as a base for education and nature sanctuary that is situated on 1,147 acres of mostly forest and includes 11 miles of trails and two ponds. The center also runs a Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic to help people who find injured and orphaned wildlife, and naturalists are on duty to answer questions and interface with the public.
“I am always trying to soak in as much information and knowledge they offer!” she said. “I’ve had dogs, cats, chickens, cows, ducks, and several other animals. I hope to have more in the future! I always have my eyes open for an animal in need.”
Utilizing her wildlife training, Cobb placed the owl in one of the department’s cells, in the dark, and made sure the area was quiet. She followed up by contacting the Connecticut-based center for further evaluation and treatment.
Shortly thereafter, wildlife rehabilitator specialists from the center arrived to transport the injured owl to their rehabilitation center. There, specialists determined that the owl was suffering from injuries consistent with being hit by a car including a ruptured eye, head trauma and blood drainage in its nose and sinuses.
While in care, specialists also discovered that the owl had a significant internal parasites load, so along with the anti-inflammatory medicine, antibiotic, and fluid therapy for his traumatic injuries, the owl was also being dewormed.
“He’s in rough shape, but we are hopeful for his rehabilitation,” officials at the center wrote via their instagram.
According to Eileen Fielding, director of Sharon Audubon Center, the center receives upwards of 900 admissions of wildlife each year. The majority of the admissions, she said, tend to be songbirds.
“From ruby-throated hummingbirds to bald eagles, we see quite a variety of birds at the rehabilitation center,” said Fielding. “The rehab clinic has seen a lot of eagles in the last year.”
The majority of admissions are a result from car strikes and birds striking windows, she said, advocating for people to place decals on windows, so birds do not mistake them for open spaces.
The clinic also treats birds that have ingested pesticides and rodent poison or are experiencing lead poisoning. The vast majority of that population is birds of prey, said Fielding.
Rehabilitator specialists have also seen migrants like the golden eagle.
While the rehabilitation clinic focuses on birds, specialists have also seen several different breeds of wildlife come through the doors of their rehabilitation center, including porcupines, opossum and even, at times, tropical reptiles that have been released by their owners.
In June, the clinic sees a lot of turtles because that’s the time of year the creature is traveling and laying eggs, said Fielding.
The same week that the great horned owl that Cobb rescued was admitted, the clinic reported that a juvenile turkey vulture, a barred owl, two spotted salamanders, a North American porcupine, and an eastern grey squirrel were also admitted.
Cobb visited the clinic recently and was able to see that the owl is recovering nicely.
“Thank you to Officer Olivia Cobb and all the kind people who saw an animal needing help during a busy holiday week and took time out of their days to get those animals into care,” rehabilitation specialists wrote via social media. “We are only able to help with the amazing support of our community of finders, volunteers and donors.”

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