Untangled owl being treated in Smithtown

A great horned owl that was found in

A great horned owl that was found in Fort Salonga tangled in a soccer net is held by Janine Bendicksen at the Sweetbrier Nature Center in Smithtown. The Owl suffered injuries to its wings and is being rehabilitated at the center. (March 23, 2013) (Credit: Ed Betz)

A great horned owl is mending at a Smithtown nature center after becoming trapped in a backyard soccer net in Fort Salonga.

The owl, which got its entire 2-foot frame stuck in the rope netting, cannot fly upward and apparently suffered a muscle pull, said Janine Bendicksen, director of wildlife rehabilitation at Sweetbriar Nature Center, which is caring for the bird.

"The netting was wrapped around its neck, wings and feet," she said. "It could not move, and we had to cut it out."

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The owl, nicknamed Lucky by center staff, will probably need one to two weeks of rest and recovery before it can be released into the wild, Bendicksen said. The bird is one of the largest breeds of owl found in North America.

Lucky was discovered about 5 p.m. on Friday behind a home on Fieldview Drive.

Bill Fine, a neighbor, said he attempted to help the owl by cutting the net with scissors, but the bird was too tangled to free that evening. The owl, he said, could have been stuck in the net for hours, possibly even overnight. "He could not move at all," he said. "The owl seemed exhausted."

Lucky, still partly tangled, was quickly rescued by the Smithtown Animal Shelter, which brought the bird to Sweetbriar.

Bendicksen said soccer nets have accidentally entangled several wild animals in recent months, including a red-tailed hawk and an eight-point buck.

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