Beloved D.C. snowy owl found dead in Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WJLA) - After recovering from injuries due to being hit by a bus in January, veterinarians at the Raptor Center in Minnesota reported sad news about the fate of the famous D.C. snowy owl on Friday.

Raptor Center spokespersons report that the owl's body was recovered by the side of a freeway in Minnesota recently - not far from where it was released a few months ago. They said the owl was identifiable by a bird band placed on its leg by the Center prior to his release.

The owl had been receiving care at The Raptor Center in St. Louis to replace damaged wing feathers after being hit by a D.C. bus in late January. Having recovered well, the owl was returned to the wild on April 19 "after meeting health benchmarks indicative of fitness for the wild," the Raptor Center said.

Sadly, the snowy owl's newfound health and freedom lasted just a few short months.

Spokespersons said the exact cause of the owl's death is unknown at this time, but that "the placement of the body indicates he may have been hit by a vehicle."

On a brighter note, the veterinarians said it appears the owl was living a happy and healthy life in the months since it had been released, before it died.

"The body was in good condition, indicating the owl was successfully hunting," they said.

A statement by the Raptor Center indicates the staff members who had helped nurse the D.C. snowy owl back to health before its release were saddened by the fate he met.

"As with all of our rehabilitated raptor patients at The Raptor Center, we work diligently to treat and prepare the birds in our care for release," the statement read. "It is always difficult when we receive news such as this."

The Raptor Center is a veterinarian center attached to the University of Minnesota in St. Paul that trains veterinary students from around the world to treat and research health issues facing species of raptors. The center cares for an rehabilitates roughly 700 raptors each year.

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