Fishing guide

Salmon River fishing guide and son rescue owl tangled in fishing line, with hook in its wing


Salmon River fishing guide Shane Thomas said he was finishing a drift boat trip Monday afternoon with a few clients when one noticed a struggling little bird wrapped in a line fishing.

It was a tiny little owl, a species that migrates through upstate New York at this time of year.

“It was absolutely appalling to see, so we had to take action. There was absolutely no way for me to live without letting it suffer, ”said Thomas, of the Salmon River Guides Service in Pulaski.

It was around 3 p.m. The bird was stuck in a tree branch close to the ground about 50 meters upstream across the river from the Ball Park boat launch in Pulaski.

Thomas said he asked his son, David, 17, who was arriving right behind him in another smaller drifting boat with a friend, to pick up the bird.

“There was a huge hook stuck in his right wing and he was hung upside down for god knows how long,” Thomas said.

David Thomas, 17, came to rescue a Saw-whet Owl wrapped in fishing line and with a hook embedded in its right wing.

The son took a few minutes, trying to untangle the fishing line. His father yelled at him to cut the line. The son ended up removing the hook from the bird’s wing to free it and brought it back to the launch. The owl barely moved, apparently in shock, Thomas said.

“As fishermen, we lose (things) in the trees. So in addition to having compassion, we should, to some extent, feel responsible (for this stuff that happens), ”said Thomas, who has been guiding the river for 31 years. “It’s not the first time I’ve seen birds line up / hooks in trees, but it was the first time any of them were alive.”

While his son freed the bird, Thomas used his smartphone to go online, looking for the nearest animal rehabilitator.

Injured owl

Jean Soprano, of the Kindred Kingdoms Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Pennellville, holds an injured Saw-whet Owl found on the shore of the Salmon River wrapped in a fishing line with a hook in its wing.

He found one and ended up driving the injured bird to the Kindred Kingdoms Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Pennellville, which specializes in helping and healing injured birds of prey and cubs in an effort to release these animals back into the wild.

Jean Soprano, of Kindred Kingdoms, said the owl Thomas brought him was a male.

Northern wet owls are the smallest owls found in New York City. As adults, they can be up to 8½ inches long with a wingspan of 17 inches. This owl takes its name from one of its cries that resemble a saw being sharpened.

It is a migratory species that winters in the central and southern United States. However, this owl can be found year round in many places in central and eastern New York City.

This is the species of owl that was discovered hidden in the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York during the 2020 holiday season. The tree was originally cut and transported from Oneonta, NY

Soprano is optimistic that the one found on the shore of the Salmon River will recover.

“The good news is we had it checked out by a vet,” she said. “We were concerned since the hook was taken off his wing. X-rays were taken and there were no broken bones in the bird’s wing. The hook only passed through soft tissue.

Injured owl

This little Saw-whet Owl appears to be recovering after being found on the shore of the Salmon River, wrapped in fishing line with a hook in its wing.

“Right now. He’s taking pain relievers and an antibiotic and we’re cleaning his wound,” Soprano said. “His eyes are bright and clear. Hopefully he’s just a short-term guy. and we can release it (back into the wild) in about 10 days.


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