Owls take flight, thanks to work of Silt wildlife rehabilitators | AspenTimes.com

Owls take flight, thanks to work of Silt wildlife rehabilitators

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Four of the six great horned owls at the Limbach wildlife rehabilitation facility south of Silt were ready for release Sunday morning on East Divide Creek. Nanci Limbach transported the four owls in small carriers, successfully releasing them one at a time. (Kelley Cox/Post Independent)

SILT, Colo. ” They came into Nanci Limbach’s care at different times. But they took flight together, flying away from Limbach and others who helped them recover.

On Sunday, Limbach released four great horned owls back into the wild on an East Divide Creek ranch south of Silt after caring for them for about a year at the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation, which is also south of Silt.

“It is exciting to have them go,” said Limbach, executive director of the foundation.

The goal of the Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation, named after Limbach’s grandmother, is to rehabilitate animals and turn them back into the wild. There are about 50 to 100 animals currently at the center. There is a mix of bears, mountain lions, bobcats, deer, foxes and other animals, Limbach said.

Two of the released owls came in to Limbach’s care about a year ago with broken wings, she said.

A Grand Junction veterinarian fixed the owls’ wings, and they later underwent physical therapy. Limbach and others then put the owls into a cage, where they forced them to fly, she said.

“Once they recovered well enough, we had some youngsters (owls) that came in and didn’t have parents, and we put them in with them to teach (the young owls) how to hunt and kill,” Limbach said. “They are all getting released together.”

Limbach said mice have been put into the owls’ cage to make sure they are “hunting and killing.” The location where the owls were released on Sunday is home to a thriving squirrel population – potential food for the recently released owls.

“We had to keep them a little longer than we planned because there was too much snow and the ground finally cleared,” she said. “The squirrels will come out and the (owls) should do quite well up there.”

The release of the owls on Sunday came a day after the Run For Their Lives 5K walk/run was held to benefit Limbach’s nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation center. The run began at the Stoney Ridge ball park behind the old Roy Moore Elementary School in Silt and went through the Eagles View, Stoney Ridge and Mesa View subdivisions. A total of 44 people participated in the event. A silent auction was also held Saturday.

“This is the first time we have done this,” Limbach said.

Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said the work Limbach does to assist wildlife in the area is critical and “that having people support her financially needs to happen” or wildlife doesn’t get the benefits she provides.

The wildlife foundation always appreciates financial or volunteer help. Those who would care to make a donation can send it to: Pauline S. Schneegas Wildlife Foundation, 5945 County Road 346, Silt, CO 81652.

“Ultimately, if we don’t have people like (Limbach) who are willing to devote their lives to wildlife, then a lot of those animals end up being put down,” Hampton said. “We don’t want to do that. It is good for (the DOW) to have that option to take the animal to a rehabilitation center like Limbach’s. If she wasn’t there, we wouldn’t have that option.”