USAG Yongsan-Casey, Republic of Korea [October 13, 2021] – A Korean Brown Hawk Owl, referred to locally as bu-ung-ee, was rescued early this week near Yongsan’s Gate #6 after sustaining what appeared to be an injury to its right wing.
Caitlin McClure, a community member, was out for a morning run when she noticed the bird sitting off at the side of the road. As she approached, she realized it was unable to fly and decided to call for assistance. She stayed with the tiny raptor until help arrived.
“The owl had an unnaturally-bent wing and its feathers were in disarray,” said McClure. “It was calm but kept its eyes warily on the people who walked past it.”
The Directorate of Public Works Operations and Facilities chief, Danny Wooten was working on a project nearby when he received the call. Within minutes, he was on scene along with the USAG Yongsan-Casey Safety director, Ta’Vares Hickey. Along with, Lt. Col. Lauren Pecher, the 106th Veterinary Detachment commander at Camp Humphrey’s 65th Medical Brigade, the team devised a plan and proper procedures for the handling of the animal.
“I was most concerned that the animal would be left to suffer or that it would not receive humane treatment by whomever came to collect it,” said McClure.
Pecher said, owls and other raptors are a protected species in South Korea and the injured bird would be rehabilitated, not destroyed.
“We’ve received a lot of calls over the years regarding wild animals on post but this is the first raptor,” said Wooten. “This is a good example of how community members, garrison staff and Korean agencies work hand-in-hand to preserve local wildlife and promote conservation.”
The bird was transferred from the Yongsan Wildlife Care Center to the Seoul City Wild Animal Rescue Management Center where it underwent surgery for a broken wing. It’s expected to make a full recovery. If everything goes as planned it should be released by spring.
The Korean Brown Hawk Owl, though common, is designated as a natural heritage treasure by the South Korean government. Currently, there are four owls being treated at the wildlife center. The owls were believed injured while attempting to migrate to countries with warmer climates.
According to center officials, these types of injuries are common around this time of year and the center urges citizens to call 02) 880-8659 for assistance in helping wild animals in distress.
“It costs nothing but time and energy to help a creature in need,” said McClure. “I’m glad that so many people gave their time today to care for the owl.”