With little fanfare, and some encouragement from a small group gathered at the Coldstream home of Kathy and Al Renaud Sunday afternoon, March 28, Henry the Owl took flight again.
Soon as the cage containing the rehabilitated owl opened, just after 3 p.m., Henry flapped its brown wings and, with a mighty tailwind behind him, headed toward Lumby.
Which is a far cry from the last time the Morning Star told you about Henry.
On Thursday, March 4, the Renauds found the owl nestled at the base of one of their trees. After several phone calls, Kathy Renaud was put in touch with the South Okanagan Raptor Rehab Centre (SORCO) in Oliver, and drove the bird south where a volunteer from the centre picked up the owl.
A day later, in speaking with staff, Renaud was told Henry was fighting for his life after showing signs of secondary poisoning.
“In other words, she ate a rodent that had been poisoned,” said Renaud.
When Henry, a great horned owl, arrived at the centre on Feb. 27, he was showing signs of poisoning, a loss of sight in his left eye, talons clenched, shaking uncontrollably. He was unable to eat on his own and was hand-fed daily for two weeks.
Henry was given an antidote of Vitamin K-1 every six hours for the first seven days until signs of improvement turned up including return of vision and use of talons. Vitamin K-1 was continued every 12 hours for three weeks.
“The owl has completely recovered,” said SORCO in a note delivered to the Renauds by a SORCO volunteer couple from West Kelowna Sunday. The centre said Henry should be released in the location he was rescued as he is an adult male great horned owl, raptors mate for life and this is mating season.
“We expect him to come back and find his mate,” said Kathy.
Renaud took to social media to spread awareness about the oroginal incident, and her post garnered a wide response from residents with more than 140 shares and 250 reactions since March 4.
One commenter shared an online petition, sponsored by Rodenticide Free BC on the Action Network, which has collected roughly 1,900 signatures of its goal of 5,000 to urge the ministry of environment to ban rodenticides as a means of pest control.
“Owls and other raptors are at a particularly high risk of secondary poisoning because of their dependence on rodents as a food source,” the petition reads, citing statistics from a 2009 study which found that 70 per cent of dead owls in B.C. had traces of at least one rat poison in their system.
“The increased poisoning of barn owls is of particular concern because of their status as threatened under Schedule 3 of the federal Species at Risk Act.”