Wildlife rehabber rescues family of Eastern Screech Owls

NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania -- "We're here to undo the damage that human beings cause in the environment," said Rick Schubert, a wildlife rehabilitator and lifelong animal-lover.

Schubert is the Executive Director at the Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Center, which has seen an increase in animal injuries related to spotted lanternfly-killing tape meant to protect trees.

Woodpeckers, nuthatches, and squirrels are among the crowd that gets caught while crawling up the trunks. But over this past weekend, three Eastern Screech Owls got snagged in the trap.

The family who discovered the injured birds made the right decision by calling the PMWC at 267-416-9453, which Schubert says should always be the first step.

"I brought the animal into the surgery room. I put all three of them under anesthesia and we slowly surgically extracted them from the tape," said Schubert. "Took us about an hour."

Rehabilitators like Schubert must be very precise in their handling of wildlife. That's why they dissuade the community from attempting to remove birds on their own.

Jackie Kent, Director of Education at PMWC, has some more advice to offer.

"Stress is the number one killer of the animals that are brought in," she added. "So, we ask that they don't feed or give them water because that can actually sometimes harm their internal systems if it's already being taxed by their injury."

Kent adds that some animals can be aided before the injury occurs. While she discourages the use of spotted lanternfly tape, she recommends a quick fix to limit its victims to the titular pest.

"We suggest that people wrap it with hardware cloth, which is like a metal mesh that you can buy at any hardware store," she said. "It can go a long way in helping those animals not get stuck, or not get stuck so severely that they are beyond repair."

For more information on how to handle injured wildlife, call the Philadelphia Metro Wildlife Center at 267-416-9453 or visit their website.