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The lab mice used as bait may have been fed a nutritional diet harmful to the owls, who naturally prey on small birds and mammals, said Carrol Henderson, longtime head of the nongame wildlife program for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Henderson said that last week Minnesota DNR officials again discussed the need for laws that might better protect raptors. Luring an owl like Ramsey puts the raptor at risk to Hwy. 10 traffic, Henderson said.
The photographers also are at risk. Henderson says a Wisconsin photographer, who lured an owl with a mouse, was struck in the head by the owl’s talons — and later ticketed for illegally enticing the raptor.
“Snowy owls hunt in the daytime,” Henderson said. “This owl needs to be catching rabbits or other animals.”
Ramsey will eventually leave the COR area, Weidensaul said. The snowy owls, which have wingspans up to five feet, prefer the Canadian Arctic, he said. Adult snowy owls are attracted to climates as frigid as 70 degrees below zero, he said.
“The winter you’re having in Minnesota is balmy to them,” he said. “For even a young snowy owl like Ramsey, this is like summer vacation.”
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419