JUNCTION CITY, Ore. – A barn owl escaped a sticky situation this month after getting trapped inside a vault toilet at Junction City Pond.
According to the Cascades Raptor Center, which helped rescue the owl, a fisherman was first to discover the animal trapped inside the bottom of the toilet.
Executive Director Louise Shimmel explained it’s not unusual for this to happen, and owls are getting trapped in similar toilets nationwide. To some species, the vents on the toilets look like a good place to nest.
“It looks like a very attractive cavity for cavity nesters,” Shimmel said.
But after entering the toilet, the animals can quickly end up stuck which is what happened at the pond.
“It’s just a really stressful thing for them. It’s as if they landed in the middle of a toxic lake,” Shimmel said.
Volunteers reached into the toilet to retrieve the owl in what has become a viral story on the organization’s Facebook page, garnering tens of thousands of likes and shares.
Shimmel said she hopes this raises awareness about the problem, and encourages people to check outdoor toilets for wildlife before using them.
Shimmel said installing screens over toilet vents can help prevent this from happening. The Teton Raptor Center in Wyoming even has a ‘Poo-Poo Project’ that works to install screens at vault toilets throughout the U.S.
Shimmel said the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is now working to bring those screens to Junction City Pond.
The famale barn owl was eventually released back into the wild.