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Ohio Researchers Track Snowy Owls to Promote Understanding, Conservation

Researchers at Black Swamp Bird Observatory near Toledo are studying the migration patterns of snowy owls as part of a research effort called “Project SNOWstorm.”

Research Director Mark Shieldcastle helped tag one owl, which they named Wolverine, with a new tracker after it was recaptured at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.Snowy Owls can mistake airports for the snowy tundra in which they live.

“Airports and larger birds of prey don’t mix well. Potentially one of these birds are large enough to take an engine out of a jet," Shieldcastle said. "So they have active operations to try to move birds away that show up at airports. Of course an airport for a snowy owl just looks like a tundra."

Shieldcastle said snowy owls can mistake an airport for their own habitat, which presents dangers to planes as they take off and land.

Wolverine was relocated northwest of Detroit’s airport and is being tracked between Flint and Pontiac, Michigan.

Copyright 2020 WKSU

David Williams is an intern at WKSU for summer 2019. A junior at Kent State, Williams is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism. Williams has reported for The Kent Stater, the university’s student-run newspaper, since spring 2018. His interests include history and politics.