Owl Rescue

Goleta Public Works Maintenance Workers are accustomed to being called out on the weekend for various issues, especially during storms, but this is the first time Jorge Flores and Joel Rubio were involved in an animal rescue.

Susie Clothier, a photographer and Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network volunteer, happened to be at Lake Los Carneros taking photos on Saturday morning, February 17, when she witnessed visitors talking about a barn owl who was dangling from a fishing line in a palm tree at Stow House approximately 60 feet off the ground.  Clothier sprung into action and notified Santa Barbara County firefighters at Fire Station 14 next to the Stow House. Unfortunately, their fire truck ladder was not able to reach the bird but as luck would have it, the City of Goleta had just purchased and received a Boom Lift which could.

That’s when Santa Barbara County Firefighters called Flores and Rubio who responded to the scene in a City truck with the Boom Lift. While muddy conditions near the owl’s location posed a challenge causing the City truck to get stuck, the collaborative team of SB County Fire, Goleta Public Works, and SB Wildlife Care Network worked together to push the truck back on solid ground.

With Joel Rubio operating the Boom Lift from the ground, Jorge Flores and Santa Barbara County Firefighter Shaun Bahne were elevated to reach the owl. Carefully and with patience, they were able to cover the owl with a blanket and remove the fishing line that had entangled the owl.

While they never expected such a call, Flores and Rubio were grateful for the opportunity to respond and provide assistance in this unique situation.

“The Public Works guys are really the heroes,” Firefighter Shaun Bahne said. “Without that lift, we wouldn’t have been able to reach the owl.”

Clothier drove the owl to the Ojai Raptor Center where it is currently being cared for. While it survived the ordeal, it is being treated for capture myopathy.  This occurs from stress enzymes that attack the bird’s muscles. We really hope this beautiful creature makes a full recovery and is able to take flight again soon.

SB County Firefighter Shaun Bahne with the owl

Group photo of those involved in the owl’s rescue