Owl gets trapped, rescued at Aspen Ritz-Carlton (video) | AspenTimes.com

Owl gets trapped, rescued at Aspen Ritz-Carlton (video)

A great horned owl, perhaps seeking a warm and luxurious respite from the winter cold, found its way in to the Aspen Highlands Ritz-Carlton on Friday morning and became trapped in a hallway.

But thanks to the efforts of three law enforcement officers, the foot-and-a-half tall adult owl was captured without injury and set free minutes later in front of the hotel.

"Its wingspan was the width of the hallway, so it was impressive," said Dave Paschal, an Aspen police community resource officer. "It was really cool."

The owl likely entered the Ritz-Carlton's White River Lodge through an outside vent and made its way through a crawl space into the hotel's attic, Paschal said. The bird then landed on an unsecured hatch that provides access to the elevator, which opened and dropped it into a fourth floor hallway, he said.

Aspen Police Department rescues trapped owl from Jeremy Wallace on Vimeo.

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Paschal and fellow resource officer Charlie Martin received a call from the hotel's manager about 7:30 a.m. Friday and went over to check it out, he said. A video taken by one of the officers shows the bird flying down the hallway toward the officer.

Neither Paschal nor Martin had experience dealing with a bird of prey, so they called the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife for assistance. However, neither agency could respond immediately, Paschal said.

But Tina White, the animal services officer for the Snowmass Village Police Department, heard what was happening over the radio and called one of the officers offering assistance. White later said she's had experience dealing with eagles, herons, hawks and owls in her 19 years in Snowmass.

"I love working with birds of prey," White said. "They're definitely cool creatures."

White headed over to Aspen Highlands, where the Ritz Carlton is located. She was able to snare the owl with a net, then cover it with a blanket. Then, using heavy leather gloves, she reached under the blanket, grabbed the owl's talons and took it out from under the blanket to examine it.

A video shot by one of the officers – viewable at http://www.aspentimes.com – shows White examining the bird's wings as it lays on the floor.

"He seemed super healthy but really scared," White said. "He had that I'd-like-to-kill-you-look."

There is no way to tell if the bird was male or female, she said.

After examining the owl, White covered it with the blanket it again to keep it calm, then took it outside, unwrapped it and it flew away.

"What a great way to start the day off," Martin said. "I love raptors and to be that close to one was just amazing."

No one was staying at the hotel when the owl dropped in, though it is scheduled to reopen today, Paschal said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

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