Volunteer Firefighters in Greenwich Rescue Great Horned Owl Caught in Fishing Line

On Monday afternoon, two members of Round Hill Volunteer Fire Co and one member of Glenville Volunteer Fire Co rescued a female great horned owl that was suspended in fishing line 15 feet above the South Stanwich reservoir.

An eagle-eyed mother, Lisa Small, spotted the endangered owl after picking up her son from Parkway School.

“As I drove across the causeway, I spotted something moving out of the corner of my eye. I stopped and went back and saw the owl hanging by its wing,” Small said. “My heart was breaking watching it try to free itself.”

After trying to reach Animal Control which was closed for the day, she called her husband, Round Hill volunteer firefighter and company president, David Chass.

Chass contacted Greenwich Police dispatch, who in turn contacted CT Dept of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Chass enlisted Round Hill Assistant Chief Sharon Strain and Glenville Captain Jeff Raiente to help free the owl.

“We knew the owl had been struggling for at least 45 minutes and its wing was clearly in bad shape. We were afraid to wait for DEEP,” related Chass.

Chass and Strain worked together to get hold of the owl while Raiente cut the fishing line to free the owl.

Chass then held the owl until the DEEP officers arrived.

“It’s a shame that someone was fishing off the causeway and left their line caught up in the trees for something awful like this to happen,” Assistant Chief Strain said.

Strain was cut by the owl’s talons during the rescue and went to Greenwich Hospital for treatment. The great horned owl is now in the care of Christine’s Critters, a Weston-based not-for-profit whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured birds of prey.

As of Tuesday, Chass said the owl had been seen by a veterinarian and was doing well.

“Only time will determine if there is lasting damage,” he said, adding that the fact that the owl was a female was significant because there likely are babies or eggs unattended in a nest.

Round Hill Volunteer Fire Company is are calling for any birders or nature lovers to contact them if they know of, or see evidence of, a nest in the South Stanwich reservoir area.

The Round Hill Volunteer Fire Company encourages people to consider making a donation to support their incredible work and taking care of these birds of prey (https://www.christinescritters.org/get_involved).

According to Christine’s Critters, this is nesting season for the owls. As the injured owl is a female, there is a good likelihood there are babies or eggs being unattended.

Birders and nature lovers are encouraged to look out in the South Stanwich reservoir area for a nest or another great horned owl circling above the reservoir area.

Anyone who knows of or sees a nest or another owl in the area is encouraged to contact Round Hill Volunteer Fire Company President David Chass ([email protected]) who will work with DEEP and Christine’s Critters to ensure their safety.

This wasn’t the first animal rescue for the volunteers at Round Hill. Earlier this year several members assisted in the rescue of a deer caught on the ice at Wilshire Pond off Close Road.

Longtime Round Hill District Chief Rick Strain remembers rescuing several horses in pools, swamps, and wrecked trailers over the years, and far too many deer to count as well.

For nearly 75 years, the Round Hill Volunteer Fire Company has served the backcountry of Greenwich and has supported the fire service town wide.

Round Hill Volunteer Fire Company is the only all-volunteer fire company in Greenwich and responds to an average of 300-400 calls per year, ranging from structure fires to fallen power lines.

Round Hill Volunteer Fire Company is weeks away from breaking ground on a significant renovation of its firehouse to modernize its infrastructure to better serve the community for the next 75+ years.