“It has been my pleasure to call Brian Salt my friend for more than 50 years. For the past 25, as the founder and guiding light of Salthaven, Brian has never drawn a salary despite frequent 18- hour workdays. My wife Carlyn and I get tremendous satisfaction from knowing our contributions to Salthaven not only help fund the treatment of sick and injured wildlife, but also help increase public awareness of their lives and challenges.” Jim ChapmanRead more
Salthaven is volunteer operated and relies upon donations of funding and supplies to help local wildlife.Read more
After pumping his lengthy wings, the yellow-eyed great horned owl rose into the sky before gracefully landing on a cement hydro pole overlooking a westbound MTO truck weigh station.
It’s been a long journey for Hooty, the rescued owl who was released into a wooded area near Putnam Road and Highway 401 on Wednesday by Amber Marshall, the star of the CBC television series “Heartland.”
Marshall is a part-time London resident and Iongtime volunteer at the Salthaven ehabilitation and Education Centre that had been Hooty’s temporary home for several weeks.
“1 have a huge passion for animals,” Marshall said. “1 love owls.”
It is believed Hooty may be very familiar with the woodlot located directly behind the highway location where he was hit by a pickup truck on Friday, Nov. 6. Hooty made headlines when it was discovered he had survived more than eight hours of being trapped in a truck grill and over 200 kilo-metres of high speeds as the truck owner sped to Sarnia.
The owner of the pickup truck had presumed the owl was dead, but when he went to replace his grill, Lee Anderson of Andersons GM in Woodstock noted the bird of prey was still ative. The bird had broken and knocked out a large chunk of the truck’s grill during impact and was stuck inside.
Mic Leuszler, an Anderson GM employee, took an interest it• the bird and helped transport him to Yates Animal Hospital, where veterinarian Gord Yates cared for the bird. The bird suffered no broken bones and was transported to Salthaven in Mount Brydges, where the middle digit of one talon, which had two growths on it, was amputated.
The growths were caused by an unknown injury that occurred prior to the collision.
“It created a condition called bumblefoot; (without treatment) he likely would have died,” “said Brian Salt, director of Salthaven.
Salt described the owl as “a tough old bird” who suffered few injuries from the collision.
“He suffered some head trauma, but it wasn’t long before he overcame that,” Salt said. “He made a quick recovery.”
Salt said research has shown that owls can function without a third digit, and Hooty’s hunting skills were put the test before he was released to ensure he could look after himself in the wild. Hooty passed the tests will flying colours, catching mice
released into a waterless swimming pool.
“He did that quite nicely,” Salt said. “This guy will be able to catch food no problem.”
Salt said great horned owls “fly stealthy,” which allows them to listen to their prey while flying.
“They can hear a mouse under three to four inches of leaf clutter at 50 feet,” he said.
Currently weighting a healthy 1,100 grams, Salt said the owl ate “like he was condemned” while at the centre and even got “a little cranky.”
“You could tell he wanted to go,” he said.
Marshall, who often promotes Salthaven by providing educational visits to area schools, plays Amy Fleming on “Heartland,” a character who helps injured and traumatized animals. Marshall, whose grandmother, Marie Downing, is a Woodstock resident, lives in the Alberta foothills on a ranch where she cares for five horses by herself.
“The role is very much myself,” she said.
Salthaven is currently looking to recruit 25 new volunteers and has plans for expansion
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