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screech owl tangled in halloween spiderweb

Our Halloween Screech Owl recovered from his ordeal within a couple of days! Watch him fly free in this video.

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Click for a PDF of this flyer to post in your neighborhood

Most people don't know that their Halloween decorations may cause harm to wildlife.

Help spread the word and save wild lives by printing and posting this flyer in your neighborhood.

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  Owl caught in Halloween fake spider web. Photo by Dave Stapp
  Photo by Dave Stapp, Marin Humane Society
spacer2.gif Screech Owl during a wing exam
  Photo by Alison Hermance
  Halloween Screech Owl being examined
  Photo by Alison Hermance

screech owl tangled in halloween spiderweb

For this Western Screech Owl, the Halloween decorations on a Novato home weren't just scary, they were life-threatening!

The Marin Humane Society responded to a call from homeowners saying that their artificial spider web had ensnared an accidental victim.

"He was hanging upside down right outside the front door," the homeowner said. "When we opened the door he just hung there and blinked at us!"

Upon arrival at the home, the MHS officer gently snipped away the fibers that tied the little owl to the porch, and brought him, panting with stress and still ensnared in web, to WildCare.

Screech Owls are small woodland owls that are common in our suburban neighborhoods. Despite their small stature, these owls have big personalities, and our Halloween Owl was no exception. Despite his obvious stress and fear, he clacked his beak and tried to bite through the heavy gloves his handlers wore to protect themselves as he was gently sedated to allow removal of all the fake spiderweb fibers.

After removing all the strands, he was checked completely for any remaining fibers, x-rayed to make sure he hadn't broken anything during his ordeal, and left to rest over night.

The following day we released him at the house where he was caught (now spiderweb-free) and gave the neighborhood children an amazing glimpse of a wild owl, and some food for thought when it comes to Halloween. Watch the video of his release!

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Educating kids about the Screech Owl  
At the Screech Owl's release, WildCare staff took the opportunity to talk to neighborhood children about protecting wildlife during Halloween. Photo by Alison Hermance
Juvenile Western Gull entangled in a balloon
A Western Gull tangled in a balloon. The bird was freed and released. Photo from WildCare archives


halloween: a dangerous holiday for wildlife

At WildCare we know that wild animals will manage to get caught and tangled in anything.

Halloween and Christmas, holidays for which people decorate the exteriors of their homes, are particularly dangerous times for wildlife; anything that dangles, loops or flutters is a potential hazard (see below).

Halloween candy offers its own dangers to wildlife. The sweet taste of all that candy is a tremendous temptation to animals like raccoons and skunks, and when these animals gorge themselves on found candy they can make themselves very ill. Even more dangerous are candy wrappers which can be eaten and choked on, or swallowed leading to fatal stomach blockages.

 halloween hints  to help wildlife 

bird print bullet point Please don't use fake spiderweb or other decorations made of entangling fibers. Wild animals can easily get trapped and not be able to break the material to free themselves.
bird print bullet point Avoid decorations with loops or closed circles. A foraging animal can inadvertently put his head through a loop or circle and choke himself.
bird print bullet point Avoid decorations with small, dangling, edible-looking parts.
bird print bullet point Make sure all candy wrappers are disposed of  properly
bird print bullet point Don't leave candy out where wildlife may find it.

We Need Your Help to Save Lives!

This owl would have died without WildCare!

Tangled in Halloween spiderwebs, wrapped in tinsel or ribbon, choking on plastic wrappers from candy or toys... the fall and winter holidays can be hard on wildlife. WildCare's Wildlife Hospital is here to help them all!

Though we have a large volunteer staff, the hospital runs on money, and we could use your help. Click here to support our round-the-clock staff as they save the lives of the animals that share our world, and send them back to their homes in the wild.

Click to donate now!

spacer2.gif Halloween Screech Owl being examined. Photo by Alison Herman
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