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Snowy owl shot at Cheyenne Bottoms
new kl Dr. Witt 2
Kansas Wetlands Education Center Educator Eric Giesing gathers up a wounded snowy owl found at Pool 2 at Cheyenne Bottoms. The owl was shot. - photo by KAREN LA PIERRE

CHEYENNE BOTTOMS — A young female snowy owl was found wounded at Cheyenne Bottoms last week by Hoisington resident Dr. Dan Witt and taken to the Raptor Center in Great Bend where it later died during surgery.

Dr. Witt was in the Bottoms on last Thursday looking for owls. He found one close to the road near Pool 2 that obviously looked hurt, so he called Eric Giesing, Kansas Wetlands Education Center educator.

The bird was in the water. "I put on my waders and got the bird," said Giesing. "It barely opened it eyes.

"I reached down and cradled it up to my body," he said. "The right wing was damaged."

They took the bird to the Raptor Center where the bird underwent surgery.

"The wing was amputated," said Giesing. The bird died.

The shooting is being investigated by Brian Hanzlik, game warden for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Unfortunately, when snowy owls appear in Kansas they are not in the best of health. Robert Penner, manager of the Nature Conservancy, said "Most snowy owls coming down have been chased out by males. Most snowy owls in the area are first year males and females. They are arctic birds that generally do not migrate as far south as Kansas during the winter.

"They come down at about half of their body weight," he said. The owls feed on lemmings and the lemming population was not sufficient to feed them in Canada, their normal winter habitat.

"A lot do not make it back," said Penner.