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Give a hoot about owls, but don’t pick them up

HUNTSVILLE – Huntsville Animal Services is urging the public not to pick up owls they find on the ground.  

Last week, the department that serves Madison County posted on social media it had received a number of calls for owls sitting on the ground. HAS said to never, ever handle or touch any wildlife.

(Huntsville Animal Service, Facebook)

“What happens is they leave the nest in order for them to learn how to fly,” said Louis Brown with HAS. “The mom and dad are up in the trees watching them, but they’re down on the ground. That’s how they strengthen their wings, little by little before they actually fly off.”

Brown also said interfering with any wildlife, especially fledglings, could be dangerous.  

“If you get too close to them or you try to pick them up, the parents could dive down to keep you away from their babies,” he said.  

Brown said as the city of Huntsville expands into undeveloped areas, native wildlife is forced to adapt.  

“They become what’s considered urban wildlife,” he said. “The animals are not aware; nobody told them, ‘hey, we’re moving in a new building, a subdivision, an apartment’.”

While sick or injured wildlife should be reported to the agency, Brown said fledgling owls should be left alone.

“People see them, think they are falling out of the nest and they need help,” he said. “But they don’t.”

Owls aren’t the only wildlife to inhabit the area. The Huntsville Animal Services Department website lists common wildlife species to avoid, including coyotes, foxes, bobcats and alligators.   

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