SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – A San Francisco barn owl starved to death Friday after becoming tangled in debris and caught in a treetop, a WildRescue spokeswoman said.
On Friday, local birder Dominik Mosur responded to a report of a dead owl hanging in a tree near Mission High School, next to Dolores Park.
A math teacher from the high school had recovered the body from the top of a neighboring 50-foot pine tree. The animal was found with black netting tangled around both its legs. Rescuers do not know how long the bird was trapped.
Rebecca Dmytryk, spokeswoman for WildRescue, said that she believes the owl became stuck after the netting got snagged on a branch, tethering the bird to the pine tree.
Dmytryk lamented that the accident was not uncommon. She added that WildRescue—a wildlife emergency response agency—responds to many birds caught in discarded fishing line, kite string or netting that become attached to protruding tree branches.
Both Mosur and Dmytryk said that the owl had lived in the area for quite a while, due to the copious amount of owl pellets discovered under the tree and littering the school’s courtyard.
Owl pellets, Dmytryk said, are masses of regurgitated hair and bone from prey that the animal can’t digest.
The death is not surprising, considering the recent owl population decline, Dmytryk said. San Francisco has become a less hospitable environment for nocturnal predators, she said.
Dmytryk is advising people to report wild animals in distress to WildRescue’s hotline at (866) WILD-911, where they can find numbers to the nearest rescue organization.
Injured animals can also be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org or by paging the rescue team at (831) 429-2323.
(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)