Owls are starving to death in northern Minnesota

  • Updated: March 27, 2013 - 12:29 AM

Conservation officers in Fosston, Hibbing, Cromwell, Pine River, Grand Rapids and the North Shore all have reported dead owls.

A long, snowy winter isn’t helping Canadian owls that have descended on northern Minnesota, looking for food. Dead owls have been reported around the region, from the northwest to the North Shore.

“We have gotten about 10 turned in so far this season,’’ said Maya Hamady, Department of Natural Resources wildlife specialist in Grand Rapids, who handles northeastern Minnesota. Most have been boreal owls, though barred, great gray and northern saw-whet owls also have been found dead. The owls are starving to death.

“They are having a hard time finding food,’’ Hamady said.

Conservation officers in Fosston, Hibbing, Cromwell, Pine River, Grand Rapids and the North Shore all have reported dead owls.

Hamady said the owl “invasion’’ this winter has been small, compared with 2005, when many great gray owls descended on the state because of a lack of food in Canada. Nearly 500 of them were killed in collisions with cars as they sought prey in roadside ditches.

“Wild populations go through these fluctuations,’’ she said.

 

Did you know?

• A snowmobiler was cruising on a lake near Pine River recently when the driver smelled burning plastic, turned her sled off and got off her machine. Conservation officer Nikki Shoutz arrived within 15 minutes of the call for help, but by then the sled was destroyed and “unrecognizable’’ as a snowmobile, Shoutz reported.

•   A homeowner near Hinckley called conservation officer Bret Grundmeier to report being attacked by a fisher. The critter tried to get some dog food in the homeowner’s garage, then reportedly approached the front porch and aggressively came after the homeowner and his dog.

“The caller then grabbed a nearby ski pole and broke it while defending himself against the animal,’’ Grundmeier reported. “The fisher continued to attack and was eventually subdued with a wooden cane.’’

DOUG SMITH

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