Snowy owl recovering after it was hurt in New Salem encounter

A snowy owl that had been spotted around New Salem for several days is in rehabilitation after an encounter with homeowners on Sunday, according to the Telegram & Gazette.

Birders and photographers had flocked to see the snowy owl when witnesses say a man and a woman who live at a house the bird was flying near tried to chase it away, the newspaper reported. The owl flew into the side of a barn, though it was unclear if a person made contact with it, witnesses said.

State environmental police are investigating the incident, a Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs spokeswoman told the newspaper.

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The Telegram & Gazette reported that wildlife rehabilitator Tom Ricardi is treating the young female owl for a damaged wing and right leg, as well as being underweight.

Snowy owls, which are are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, are rarely seen in central Massachusetts, Ricardi told the newspaper.

If the bird does not recover enough to return to the wild, Ricardi said he would keep the bird at his facility and use it in educational programs.