A barn owl injured by the Thomas Fire was fully rehabilitated and released by the Ojai Raptor Center over the weekend, the center said.
The owl was dark gray from soot and had signs of head trauma when it was taken in Dec. 12, though it could have shown those same symptoms due to smoke inhalation, according to Lizzy Chouinard, a rehabilitation supervisor for the Ojai Raptor Center.
Chouinard said the owl spent about a month in the center’s ICU hospital, receiving supportive care and medicine for ataxia, which is a lack of muscle coordination, before moving outside, where Ojai Raptor Center employees could assess its movement and make sure it was hunting live prey.
“It made an incredibly fast recovery,” Chouinard said. “Usually when we see the symptoms it was presenting, they spend much longer in the hospital and it takes longer for them to regain balance.”
The owl was released “as close to where he was found as possible, because he was an adult that likely had his own territory and possibly a mate,” the center wrote in a Facebook post. “Hope he thrives for years to come!”
Other wildlife victims of the Thomas Fire have included two adult female black bears, who were treated with the help of fish skin, and a 5-month-old mountain lion cub. The bears and the lion club were treated by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.