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Officer has another owl encounter

You've heard about the fireman rescuing the cat stuck in the tree. But have you heard about the police officer rescuing the owl stuck in the soccer net? Sgt. Brian Salo has. Twice.

Last week, Salo was on patrol for the Woodbury Public Safety Department when he received a call about an owl that was tangled up in some soccer netting at Colby Lake Park.

The call came in Monday, June 10 from Marlene Romero. She and her son Jarrod, 10, were running a few laps around the field before soccer practice when Jarrod spotted something in the goal.

The pair moved closer until they saw a large owl struggling to free itself.

"What really struck me was its eyes," Romero recalled. "They were so big and yellow, almost frightening. We figured we should get some help for the poor thing."

Romero called the public safety department, and Salo responded.

He knew what to do right away, because he was faced with the same situation eight years ago in Ojibway Park.

"I don't know what it is about owls and soccer nets, but they don't seem to like each other," said Salo, who called the local Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Brad Johnson to rescue the great horned owl.

Johnson said the owl most likely got caught in the soccer net while chasing some prey.

"It was probably flying really low to the ground and maybe going after a mouse or vole and just was not focusing on the net coming up," Johnson said. "I'm guessing it tried to get out of the net and just got itself even more stuck."

When Johnson arrived, he and a city community service officer teamed up to cut the owl free from the netting. Romero and her son watched intently.

"It was so still while they got it out of the net, so we wanted to make sure it was going to be all right," she said.

Johnson said besides an abrasion to its wing and some ruffled feathers, the bird appeared to be okay. It was transported to the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota for observation, and if it is healthy, will be released back into the wild within days.

Johnson said great horned owls are fairly common in Woodbury and the east metro.

"If you're looking for them, you can see them pretty often here all over Minnesota," Johnson said. "They are the biggest owls in North America, and they're usually active at night. That's probably when that one got caught in the net."

Salo said his encounters with owls in soccer nets are not a regular occurrence, but said those type of calls are a nice change of pace.

"We only respond to those calls if there isn't something of a greater priority for us to respond to," Salo said. "But I guess in a way owls live here too. It's nice to help them out when they need it."