Thursday, December 3, 2015

Snowy owl released near Oak Creek Power Plant

Ukpik before his release.
It’s not every day you see a snowy owl up close. So, when one was spotted at Oak Creek Power Plant in early November, some employees took pause. The owl was on the ground and appeared injured. They took the appropriate action to observe the bird rather than approaching it.

As a company, we have a commitment to the environment and encourage our employees to be good environmental stewards. Susan Schumacher, principal ecological scientist with We Energies, was called to the site to check on the bird. After observation, she contacted the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at the Wisconsin Humane Society to come in and rescue the bird.

“We’ve always had a very keen interest in maintaining a good ecological balance at all of our sites. I’m glad it all worked out. Our employees did a really nice job doing the right thing by observing the bird,” said Schumacher.

Snowy owls are native to the arctic tundra but have been showing up in high numbers in Wisconsin over the past few years. The theory is that they are coming south searching for food. They are large birds that can have wingspans up to 4 feet.

The snowy owl was named Ukpik, an Inuit name for snowy owl. He was estimated to be between 3 to 4 years old. He was exhausted, dehydrated and thin. After just a few days, the bird was drinking and eating again.

“Before any animal is released, we do a lot of pre-release conditioning. There are multiple tests we do to make sure he is good to go. He is doing everything he needs to do to be a good, wild, snowy owl. He knows what to do. He’s an adult owl that just needed a little boost this winter,” said Crystal Sharlow-Schaefer, wildlife team leader for the Wisconsin Humane Society's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

On Dec. 2, Ukpik was released successfully at Haas Park near Oak Creek Power Plant.

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