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Grand County Sheriff's Office

Injured owl found on US 191 near Moab, 'swaddled much like a baby' to safety

By Merritt Jewel, | Posted - Jan. 9, 2020 at 12:15 p.m.

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MOAB — An injured owl is recuperating after suffering a broken wing.

Grand County sheriff's investigator Nate Whitney thought he may be dealing with a dead bird on the road while he drove on Highway 191 south of Moab Tuesday morning.

But as Whitney approached, it began to move.

"(Whitney) then realized the owl was alive as it extended a leg and claws towards him in a defensive manner," according to a Grand County Sherriff's Office news release.

Turns out it was actually a great horned owl with a broken wing.

Whitney cleared the road and contacted dispatch for help from the Department of Natural Resources because his car did not have a protective divider between the front and the back seats.

While waiting for deputy Josh Stalpes to respond with his patrol truck, Whitney swaddled the owl in a blanket "much like a baby," according to the news release.

"The owl was calm as it was placed in Stalpes' truck and safely transferred to the sheriff’s office," the news release said.

Later, Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation in Price took the owl for rehabilitation.

Second Chance is a nonprofit organization whose mission, according to its website, is "to take care of sick, injured or orphaned animals and when healed, return them to their natural habitat."

Whitney also received a shoutout from the Hungry Owl Project.

"Join us in thanking Nate Whitney from the Grand County, Utah Sheriff's Office for this heroic rescue!" tweeted @Hungry_Owl.

Along with Second Chance, the Hungry Owl Project promotes creating a safer environment for owls.

For more ideas on how to help protect the owls in your area, visit and


Merritt Jewel

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