A couple of days after my grand adventure with Katie in search of the Great Horned Owl my brother-in-law Stanley found a dead owl. He was checking out the back fairways on the golf course he runs in preparation for opening day when he spotted the owl laying in the snow at the base of a large pine tree. Of course, he thought of me and brought it home in a plastic bag. It was a beautiful specimen, what a shame it had to die. I called NH Fish & Game to ask if I could have it stuffed and was told that the Great Horned Owl is a Federally Protected owl and that it was against the law for me to possess one, either dead or alive.
I asked Fish & Game if they would like the body to have stuffed for their education centers. They said that due to budget cuts they didn't have any money in their budget for taxidermy projects. I asked them if I could donate the cost to have it stuffed. Over the years I have enjoyed stopping at the Twin Mt nature center and other state-run nature centers and I thought I could “pay back” by funding the taxidermy. They were very interested, I was told that the Enforcement Officer assigned to my area would contact me.
After a day or so of phone tag Officer Chris finally contacted me. The first thing he asks me is where do I have the owl body. I tell him it is wrapped in plastic and buried in a snow bank in the yard. He informs me that the Great Horned Owl is a Federal Protected species and that I am in violation of the law by owning said owl. He tells me that if I have it in my house, garage, shed or any man-made structure that I can be arrested. He tells me to be sure to keep it outside. Jeepers this guy is serious he's beginning to scare me. He tells me that he will come to the house between 8 & 9 am the next morning to retrieve the owl.
Officer Chris explains that he has a list of state-approved educational centers licensed to possess federal mounts. That he appreciates my offer to donate the cost for the taxidermy, but that the areas waiting for an owl will handle the cost. Sure enough Officer Chris arrives the next morning, luckily it was Good Friday and John had the day off, I had to work. He said the owl was in great shape and would make a fine mount. It turns out that the Concord Audubon Center will get the owl, they will mount it and put it on display for all to enjoy.
The pictures are difficult to look at, the poor owl seems to have broken his neck, but what a beautiful bird. Most likely in the hot pursuit of a squirrel or other prey he miss judged the distance between the branches and ran into the tree. But at least he will live on in spirit on display in our states capital for the enjoyment of all the visitors young and old.
And so the saga continues as I search to see the Great Horned Owl. A few days after our adventure Katie was able to make it back to the rail trail and she got to see an owl fly over her head. My brother-in-law finds one on the ground by his feet. A newspaper article talks about the many sightings of the Great Horned Owl on Plum Island, that the park rangers have had to close down the area to protect the nesting owls. I still search for my sighting. Tammi have you made it out to the rail trail near you to see if the Great Horned Owl is nesting in the heron rookery? I am even more determined than ever to find one!