Middle School Teacher Rescues Great-Horned Owl From Soccer Goal

by Taylor Cunningham

A Wisconsin middle school teacher is making headlines after she heroically saved a great-horned owl from a soccer goal.

Seventh-grade science teacher Abbie Ward, from Riverview Middle School in Plymouth, already had a reputation for saving animals. So when she heard that an owl had flown into a school soccer net on Sept. 16, she reacted accordingly.

With quick thinking, Ward put on a pair of thick chemistry gloves, grabbed a pair of scissors, and headed out to the field.

“By the time we got out there, it was really, really caught up,” Ward told WDJT-Milwaukee.

An onlooker caught the rescue on camera, which shows the teacher unraveling the giant bird and cutting the net as the owl remained still and watched.

“He laid there,” she continued. “And those huge yellow eyes just stared at me the entire time I was trying to get those last few pieces off,” Ward said. “It’s almost like he knew I was getting ready to let him go.”

Lindsay Obermeier, a wildlife expert with Schlitz Audubon Nature Center told the publication that owls fly into soccer nets often.

“Owls are nighttime hunters,” she shared. “So they don’t have the best eyesight to see those really thin nets.”

Great-Horned Owls Have a Grasp That’s Six Times Stronger Than a Human’s

When great-horned owls find themselves caught, saving them can be dangerous. The birds of prey have incredibly sharp beaks and talons. And their grasp is about six times stronger than our own.

But Ward was already aware of the threat, which was why she protected herself with thick gloves.

“I would not have touched it without those gloves that I knew it was not going to be able to bite or claw through,” she continued.

Luckily, it only took a few minutes for Ward to cut the owl loose. When she did, it flew away unharmed to a round of applause. The bird first landed in a tree and then flew into nearby woods.

“He just took off, and it was just the greatest,” she smiled. “Everybody was clapping and cheering.”

According to Obermeier, people should not attempt to help wildlife if they’re inexperienced. Instead, they should call local authorities or a professional wildlife rehabilitator for help.

However, she said that Ward gave the perfect example of what to do in her situation.

“Bravo to this teacher!” she said. “Absolutely phenomenal, brave, and exactly what people want to see done to help out with wildlife.”

Obermeier also reminded people that soccer and other sporting nets are extremely dangerous to birds. And there is an easy way to prevent more incidents like this.

“The best thing to do to avoid the whole situation is to take the net down when you’re done using the field,” she said.