The victim was caught out of trapping season and appeared to have been in the trap for days. The trap lacked required identification, and did not catch a furbearing animal, the brutal device’s typical intended target. The incident occurred in Swansboro, a popular tourist destination along the North Carolina coast, and a place often referred to as a “Friendly City by the Sea.” However, it was not so friendly to a great horned owl—a protected species—who got caught in a steel-jaw leghold trap set along the side of a road in late May.
Fortunately, a local volunteer at the Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary was driving by, noticed the owl, and came to her rescue. Once the woman saw that the owl was caught in a trap, she called for help. It was tough freeing the bird from the jaws of the trap; two of her toes had sustained cuts all the way down to the bone.
The owl recuperated at a local raptor rehabilitation center, with careful attention to ensure that her foot didn’t become infected. Unlike many other raptors caught in steel-jaw leghold traps, gangrene did not set in and require amputation of any toes. The owl recovered and was released back to the wild by the sanctuary.