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Five state endangered owls get released back into the wild

(WSIL) — Five owls considered endangered in the state of Illinois have been released into the wild. A crowd of bird watchers and owl fans gathered at Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife Area to be a part of the release.

Beverly Shofstall, Founder and Director of Free Again Wildlife Rehabilitation, explains, "Today is the final step of the rehabilitation of these five baby barn owls that were brought in. They realized there was no parent coming after 24 to 36 hours."

Shofstall has spent the last 4 months raising five state endangered owls, whose mother was killed by a predator.

Site Superintendent  Eric McClusky says  "We noticed that she had left the nest, that morning we found a wing and some feathers and we figured she had be the victim of predation of some sort."

The owl’s nest was being monitored with a web camera at Sahara Woods State Fish and Wildlife area. McClusky says the owls had made their home in an owl box attached to one of their buildings.

McClusky elaborates, "It was quite a process, as you can understand, they were not happy campers. We put them in a box with blankets and rushed them to Carterville as quickly as we could possibly get them there."

That’s when Shofstall took over and the owlets’ lives rested in her hands. The owls ranged from days old to weeks old.

Shofstall says, "The strength between the oldest and the youngest were obviously a bit of a stretch between them and so the younger guy were really, it was touch and go for them for the first couple of days."

Agriculture and the loss of old barns have made it hard for Barn Owls to survive and Shofstall says she’s happy she could make a difference.

Shofstall explains, "It’s a combination of a lot of things but southern Illinois tends to be bit of a hot spot where we have just enough intersperse grasslands in with the wooded areas that they’re making a come back."

The State of Illinois has a small population of Barn Owls but they thrive in other states.

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News 3 Staff

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