Clarkson team helps save snagged owl in nick of time
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 6:01 am

A team from Clarkson University installing sensors at Schoharie Creek south of the Adirondack Park was in the right place at the right time with the right skill set to help save an owl that did not seem to have a lot of time left to live.

The story is on the North Country Wild Care Facebook page at :

"Greatest Rescue Ever! New York Wildlife Rescue Center got a call about an Owl stuck in a tree caught up in fishing line. Wes Laraway was in a meeting so I, Linda Brown North Country Wild Care and member offered to look for the owl. I looked at both places I thought they owl would be but I was unable to find the owl. The finder was called and the location was clarified. Turns out I was looking at the wrong boat launches. We arrived at the correct location and the owl was easy to find. Unfortunately, the owl was not easy to rescue. She was stuck in fishing line at least 25 feet over the very rapidly moving waters, of the Schoharie Creek. Luckily for the owl - there was a crew of Clarkson University engineers installing solar panels and weather/flood sensors at this site. When they were notified that we attempting to save the owl - they immediately informed us that they had some equipment that would help with this rescue. One of the younger members of this crew climbed the tree as far as he could. Then he used a strap, for tying down cargo loads, to lasso the fishing line that had this bird entangled. In the meantime another member of this team stated that he had scuba gear and would wait in the water, under the owl so he could catch her if she fell. Everything fell into place when the tree climber broke the line and the bird fell into the water. He was caught with ease and brought into rehab for a medical exam. This juvie Great Horned Owl is in bad shape, skinny, dehydrated, and with an obvious shoulder injury. Please send all your positive thoughts in her direction. Hopefully she can be rehabbed and set free."

“This piqued our interest,” said Clarkson spokesman Mike Griffin, “so we made some calls and found out that Clarkson University Civil and Environmental Engineering Research Technicians Patrick O'Brien and Peter Kirkey and three summer workers from Clarkson and other area colleges were at Schoharie Creek doing station installs for the River & Estuary Observation Network.”

Griffin said that Kirkey and one of the summer workers stayed to finish the station install, while O’Brien, Summer Worker Josh Miller (who is also a Clarkson Engineering and Management Major), and Summer Worker Aaron Newcombe went over to see if they could lend a hand with the wildlife rehabilitation person. “Josh took a tie-down strap and climbed up into the tree as far as he could get up safely, Patrick swam out to be in a position to catch the owl, and Aaron directed them from shore,” Griffin said he was told.

The State Wildlife Rehabilitator had a rifle out, as they had not had any luck in getting the bird down and were nearing the point where they were going to put it down with the rifle, when the Clarkson team showed up.

O’Brien said that it’s “just fate we were there and had some of the skill sets we did. Two of us are veterans (Army and Navy), two of us are volunteer firemen, and with what we do at Clarkson all of us are used to thinking outside the box.”