Officials with the local wildlife organization WRANPS say Dakota Gugino's keen eye and good heart has saved a barred owl's life. The St. Clare second grade student noticed the bird in stress on his way to school. "He saw the flapping wings in the tree," Hancock county resident Tammy Gugino says. "I stopped to see what it was and it was an owl stuck up in the vines. He asked me to get somebody to help it out."
When Gugino got to work, she called five different city and state agencies and was told there was nothing they could do. Then she got a hold of WRANPS.
The Pass Christian non-profit organization is dedicated to preserving wildlife. When WRANPS arrived the baby owl had managed to free itself from the vines, but appeared to be injured.
"When I climbed up to see if he was okay, he fell to the ground," WRANPS member Dianne Hunt says. "His wing is definitely broken. He beat his wings so hard in an effort to free himself that he broke one of them."
Hunt says if help hadn't arrived the owl wouldn't have survived.
"He's severely injured," Hunt says. "He can't hunt. He would have starved to death."
Now the animal will be taken to WRANPS for the medical attention and the rehabilitation it will need. The first thing they are going to tackle is the owl's wing.
"Initially, it will either be set in place or maybe pinned. In any event it will take at least two to three weeks for the wing to heal. After that, we'll be exercising this bird in a flight area so his muscles are ready for him to hunt again. Then we'll release him back where he came from," Hunt says.