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Rehabilitated pueo released back into wild on Lanai

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A Hawaiian owl was released on Lanai last week after it was found emaciated and badly injured alongside the highway.

The pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl, had a nine-month recovery process after it was found in November with traumatic head and eye injuries, Hawaii News Now reported.

The bird was found on Lanai and taken to the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife, but was it was transferred to Hawaii’s only native bird and bat hospital, the Hawaii WildlifeCenter on Hawaii island.

The pueo’s recovery seemed miraculous to some of the people involved in its rescue and treatment.

The bird’s neurological and visual damage was initially so bad that rehabilitation manager Judi Ellal wasn’t sure it could ever return to the wild.

“It was amazing to witness these deficits reverse where he was able to adapt and improve,” Ellal said. “The victories, including being able to eat on his own, fly purposefully inour flight enclosure, aim for the perch and successfully land on it, and focus visually on prey.”

The pueo is Hawaii’s only native owl. The nonnative barn owl was introduced.

The pueo is on all main Hawaiian Islands, but it is rare and considered endangered on Oahu.

“This incredible success story demonstrates that no matter which island you’re on when you find a sick or injured native bird or bat, we are here to help,” said Hawaii WildlifeCenter Director and President Linda Elliot. She said the hospital serves the entire Hawaiian Island chain.

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