Man Trying To Save A Struggling Owl Caught In Fishing Line Never Expected The Bird’s Reaction

Texas country club superintendent Craig Loving was used to dealing with animals on the golf course where he worked. Most cases amounted to little more than squirrels taking up residence on the thirteenth hole. Recently, though, he encountered a totally unique—and heartbreaking—problem.

It started when two employees noticed an animal acting strangely near the tee box for the course’s first hole. Upon closer inspection, they realized the animal was in serious trouble—and it was up to Craig to make a tough decision before it was too late.

As the superintendent of Lost Creek Country Club in Austin, Texas, Craig Loving had no shortage of work: the sprawling golf course required all kinds of expertise and labor to maintain. But in March 2017, he encountered something truly unique and heartbreaking.

It started when two club employeesDevin and Dora, spotted an animal sitting on a tree stump in a small pond near the first-hole tee box. Strangely, the animal had been there all night and into the morning.

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The animal in question was a beautiful great horned owl. Though the species was common in America, it definitely wasn’t normal for the bird to stay in one place, exposed, for so long. Something wasn’t right…

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Upon closer inspection, Devin and Dora realized the problem: the owl was wrapped in fishing wire, which had bound him to the pond stump. Unfortunately, no wildlife rescue professionals were available at the time to help him out. What could they do?

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Luckily, they knew just the person they needed: Craig Loving. “Fishing line was wrapped around its wing,” Craig recalled, “so they were gonna try and get someone to go out there and get it. I guess I volunteered.”

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His mission clear, Craig stepped into some rubber waders, navigated through the brush, and plodded into the waist-deep water. Finally, he was standing right beside the entangled bird of prey.

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Craig needed to be careful: the owl might’ve been tangled up, but his sharp beak and talons were still dangerous. Craig reached out and carefully snipped the fishing line. It appeared to be wrapped around not just the owl, but a tree as well. Still, that wasn’t doing the trick.

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“I cut the fishing line and then it was still wrapped around [the owl],” Craig said. In fact, the wire was completely restricting the owl’s delicate wing. Craig tried unwrapping it a couple of times, but he still couldn’t free the bird.

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The owl remained somewhat peaceful throughout the ordeal, but Craig knew he was still putting himself at risk. Were he to anger or frighten the owl, he might’ve ended up on the wrong end of those massive talons!

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Just because the owl didn’t tear at Craig’s arm with his talons didn’t mean he was totally chill—and he made sure to give the man several warnings. “He kept slamming his beak down trying to say, ‘Hey, I don’t like this,’ but I kind of talked to it a little bit.”

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Eventually, the owl seemed to realize that Craig was there to help, and he let the man do what he must. This allowed Craig to cut away at the wire enough to free the owl. Then, that was when he noticed another problem…

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Though he was technically free, the poor owl wouldn’t leave the pond stump, possibly out of fear. So Craig had an idea. “We got a shovel,” he recalled, “and we took the shovel handle and used it as a perch.”

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Incredibly, the owl gingerly stepped off his stump, just as Craig hoped. He held the owl an arm’s length away and lifted the handle. The owl was now completely on the handle and looking at him patiently—now what?

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The owl didn’t move—he just showed off his gorgeous yellow eyes and wore a placid look of relief as if to say, “Took you long enough!” Perhaps this was how owls showed respect and gratitude…

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Craig slowly waded out of the pond and up the embankment, but the bird had yet to fly away. Even though the owl was free from his fishing wire, he still refused to take off into the sky. Was he hurt?

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Craig walked toward the course until he reached a nice patch of well-maintained green. “We put him on the bank,” he said, recalling the moment he set the shovel down. “I guess he was good after that.” Finally, the bird stepped off the shovel.

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Still, the owl stared. Craig was mystified, saying that it was “a little intimidating. Especially when its beak started snapping at me.” Was this owl angry or what? “But it was cool. It was definitely very cool.” Perhaps it was the owl’s way of saying goodbye…

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Then in one amazing moment, the owl, now able to flex and extend his wings, let Craig pet him across the chest. Craig was all smiles. He clearly thought the moment was a total hoot!

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Then, with one flap of his mighty wings, the owl flew away from the golf course at long last. “It was definitely the first time I’ve ever done that,” Craig said with a laugh. “So it was a new experience.”

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Just watch the footage from Craig’s rescue effort to save this owl. It’s a good thing he was willing to wade into that murky water for the beautiful bird; otherwise, the owl might not have taken flight again…

Owls are incredible animals, and thanks to Craig, this one got to continue to show the world his feathers!

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