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Thursday

April 2014

17

Recovering owl has first media visit

After his adventure in the wild, great horned owl Dakota received visitors Thursday afternoon at the Wildlife In Need Center (WINC).

The owl, that was taken from his cage in mid-November and finally rescued from the wild on Dec. 7, has slowly been recovering. The bird has lived nearly his entire life in captivity and does not know how to hunt in the wild. When he was recovered, Dakota had lost more than 20 percent of his body weight and had to undergo a barrage of medical tests to evaluate his condition. Now back on solid foods, Dakota was ready to make his first public appearance.

Dakota sits perched behind an indoor cage at

The Wildlife In Need Center Thursday. The center

allowed media a first visit with the owl after his recent

rescue.

 

Greeting visitors is nothing new to the raptor who has served as an animal ambassador at the Wildlife In Need Center for many years. WINC reported Dakota has educated more than 80,000 through his service.

However, Thursday's visit was a bit guarded as Dakota is still slowly recovering. Perched behind a glass display window, Dakota watched news media file through the center.

“He still has a journey ahead of him, not only physically, but mentally as well, before he’ll be prepared to return to work,” said Wildlife Education Coordinator and Dakota’s handler, Leslie Kiehl, "but for Dakota, it’s worth all the effort.”

Two Dousman teens, Dilan White and Matthew Kuhlemeyer will be in court Dec. 29 for a hearing. Both are charged with a felony count of burglary and misdemeanors for property damage. According to police reports, the two waited until WINC staff left for the day and climbed the center's fence. They pried open Dakota's cage and trapped the owl  in a towel. They took Dakota to a home in Dousman where he escaped. A Facebook post led Sheriff's detectives to the teens who admitted to taking the bird.

More on this story in Tuesday's Oconomowoc Focus.

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