Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dakota Update - 11/27/11

Yesterday, we gathered a large group of staff members & trained animal care volunteer searchers to once again go out to look for Dakota. We split into several small groups, took maps, and were able cover on foot some of the areas we have been regularly searching, as well as some new areas.  We were able to cover a lot of ground, and were able to talk with a number of homeowners, as well as hand out some informational flyers.  Unfortunately, despite being out for several hours, we were hampered by the wet, rainy weather.  This was frustrating for us, because as we have mentioned in the past, we know that Dakota does not like the rain or the wind, and knew he was likely hunkered down into a sheltered spot & would not be moving about. We were not successful in locating Dakota yesterday, but remain committed to our daily searches for him.  We hope to be able to schedule another large-scale foot search this week (weather cooperating).

The good news is, since we were able to talk personally to some people who live in the greater Hunter's Lake/Dousman area southwest of the WINC facility (the area we still believe Dakota to be in), we found out a couple of things.  One, many people reported hearing an owl/owls on or around their property, giving us some more clues on areas we might expand our daily foot searches into.  Second, every person we talked to was aware of the situation with Dakota, was sympathetic to his plight, and all agreed to let us onto their property to look for him. This was a great bright spot in the day, to know that people are so well-informed, and are so willing to help us watch out for him.  It helps so much, to know that all of our considerable efforts to get the word out and make people aware of Dakota's situation are working so well. Thank you so very much to everyone we were able to talk to. Thank you for your kindness and caring on a rainy afternoon, thank you for your graciousness in agreeing to let us onto your properties to search, and thank you for your help in allowing us to continue our search efforts to bring Dakota home.

Additionally, we were able to participate again in "The World's Greatest Cookie Sale" in Pewaukee at the Country Springs Hotel on Friday, and we were overwhelmed with the number of people who stopped by our tables to ask about Dakota.  It was awesome to see just how many people made a point to take a moment out of their busy Black Friday shopping day and drop by our booth to offer support, and to let us know they wanted to thank us for our efforts.  That was very heartening to us, on such a hectic day, to feel the love the community has for Dakota & for WINC.  Once again, we want to express how blessed we are, to have so many people looking out for our dear Dakota.

As always, if you live in the local Dousman/Hunter's Lake area and believe you see or have seen Dakota, please do not hesitate to contact WINC.  Additionally, please feel free to print out the picture of the flyer included with this blog and post it-----WITH PERMISSION = please do not post it or distribute it unless you have the expressed permission of any given property owner, business, school---etc.  ((As a reminder:  it is ILLEGAL to place flyers in mailboxes.))  We have been contacted by so many people who have offered to help us in any way they can, and we are so very appreciative.  The community has been just wonderful in it's acceptance of our search, and we would not want to jeopardize in any way the efforts we have already made, or damage the trust of the community.  Thank you for helping the center find Dakota, and helping us follow the rules :) 

(Guest Blogger K.P.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dakota Update---11/22/11

Everyone has been so wonderful in being patient and allowing us to continue to focus our efforts on bringing Dakota home, and we are so very grateful for that.  Much of our current resources---in addition to continuing to provide constant care for our patients & continuing to keep our clinic properly staffed---are devoted to our recovery process, and continuing to evaluate that process & consult our resources within the rehab community.  It’s not always easy to have the additional resources to compile and publish daily updates on Dakota, and when we do provide updates, we want to make sure that we are giving you the most current and correct information.  Our sincere appreciation goes out to all of you for your continued patience, well-wishes, positive energy & prayers.  You are awesome.

Over the past weekend, staff went out multiple times and are pretty sure they heard Dakota on several occasions (tho he was not positively sighted).  This is still a very positive sign.  There are also now two feeding stations up.  Neither seem to have been visited yet, but staff will continue to check the feeding stations and continue to try to locate Dakota by calls at night.  We’re again asking everyone, please do not attempt to locate Dakota on your own. People he is not familiar with will frighten him (and, we want to again caution everyone about hunting season; it’s unsafe to be walking around the area we believe him to be in).  Thank you to everyone who’s been respectful of us & Dakota during this time.  The most important thing you can do for us is to please continue to keep Dakota in your hearts & have faith, and continue to be patient….this is not an easy process, and it is not going to be a quick process.  But we remain very optimistic, and are working hard to bring Dakota home.

Additional positives of our current search include the fact that we are still actively and regularly hearing 2 Great Horned Owls in the area we believe Dakota to be in.  Staff will be moving one of the feeding stations down into a lower area where we believe he has settled down in to get away from the wind (Dakota does not like the wind or rain).  Although he may be eating on his own (and we of course absolutely hope that he is), if he is not, he may be just starting to get hungry.  The most positive aspect of his current feeding situation is that Dakota was in great condition when he was taken.  He is healthy, strong, in excellent feather, and was extremely well-fed.  The extreme cold weather has not yet reached us, and that will allow him to further conserve his energy & bulk.  Because of these factors, we are able to be very grateful that we are blessed with the time and resources to continue to try and lure him in without further traumatizing him.  These are all very hopeful and positive assets!

Thank you all again for caring so much about Dakota.  It is so heartening to us that there is so much love in the community for him, and that he has—and continues—to touch so many lives.  Please continue to remain patient and ever hopeful that we will have him home again soon.  We will do our very best to provide regular updates, when we have developments to report.

(Guest blogger K.P.)

Friday, November 18, 2011


Our latest updates regarding our attempts to lure Dakota to the feeding station we have set up are as follows:

Thursday Nov 17
The feeding station was checked on Thursday morning, and all of the mice we had offered were still there. Staff did some calling and walking in that area, but heard only crows.  There were no significant signs that any other animals had visited the feeding station.

Friday Nov 18
The fresh mice put out at the feeding station the night before remained untouched this morning.  Some faint hooting was heard, but Dakota was not sighted.  Several dogs could be heard barking in that area, which made it difficult to determine which direction the hooting was coming from.

Staff is continuing to visit the feeding station and the area nearby on a regular basis each day.  Because we believe we have sighted and know we have shared vocalizations with Dakota in that area, we continue to remain hopeful that we will be successful in luring Dakota down from the trees to the feeding station, and that we will be able to see evidence he’s in that area on the trailcam that the homeowners who are assisting us are monitoring.  If we have any significant updates regarding our progress in these areas, we will post an update on the blog and/or our facebook page.

Thank you all again for the tremendous support you have shown and continue to show the center.  Please continue to join us in praying for the best possible outcome for Dakota---that he is back home once again with his family at WINC.  We miss him terribly, more than words can express.  Your positive energy and well-wishes mean the world to us right now.

Additionally, we wanted to let everyone following Dakota’s situation know, we appreciate the concern that has been expressed regarding the security of the grounds and the building at the current WINC location.  As always, our foremost concern is for the safety & well-being of the animals we treat and house at the center, and for the staff and volunteers who spend such a substantial portion of their time caring for those animals.

WINC is looking at increased security measures in light of our recent break in and theft of Dakota.  Because we are on UW-W property, we are working directly with the university system to discuss ways to increase security for the property in general. Our original plans for the building and our compound was to install security cameras & also use the same camera system to put cameras on patients and educational animals. Ultimately, we would like to be able to set up monitors in the public “Gathering” educational room so that visitors can see the animals, without disturbing the animals. These cameras would also help Animal Care staff evaluate and monitor patients by watching them when the animals don’t know they are being observed (with the hope that the animals would behave and move about as they normally would, without the added stress of human interaction). Winter weather this last year caused construction delays and increased costs for the building, so the camera project had to be put off until we can raise sufficient money to complete it.   We remain focused on continuing to secure adequate funding for that camera system, as well as for additional lighting, and also some physical changes to the building itself to increase security now. We have been asked repeatedly by our supporters and the public if there are ways in which they can help, and we are accepting donations from anyone who wishes to help us meet our goals with this project.  Every donation we receive helps us in our greater goal of providing care and comfort to the animals we treat.

For obvious reasons, it wouldn’t be in the center’s best interests to go into specifics on our blog or our facebook page of the exact details of every measure we are taking to add to the center’s security, because we would not want any other intruders to know what they might face if they come here. However… suggestion has been to deploy “Daphne”, our Educational Muscovy Duck, to patrol the clinic at night – anyone who knows Daphne knows she would make her presence known to any potential intruders J

(Guest bloggers L.R. & K.P.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Hopeful Progress Report

We wanted to check in again & update everyone on our progress in our search for Dakota.  

Search parties were out all day and early evening Tuesday, south of Hunters Lake/Dousman. We had several sightings and vocalizations. We’re secure in our belief that Dakota is in that area, as he has responded to Leslie’s voice several times and we recognize some of his “special” vocalizations. We were confused initially by sightings and vocalizations that seemed to be in different areas, sometimes at the same time. We now feel there are 2-3 owls other than Dakota in the area: a youngster from this year who makes begging cries for food when staff hoots, and 1 or 2 adults who are probably its parents.

We’ve had so many offers of search help, and want to again express how very grateful we are for the kindness and caring of everyone who has been touched by Dakota's plight. After several searches over the past few days, staff has decided that the best approach is to just attempt recovery with staff members, who Dakota is the most familiar with and comfortable around. We are also very mindful that we don’t want to lose our permission to search on these private properties by becoming a nuisance.  We think our best chance of recovery is with people Dakota knows well, especially since he is so traumatized.  We don’ t want anyone not familiar with (or familiar to) Dakota to try to grab him and be inadvertently hurt, or further scare Dakota. So at this time, we would ask that everyone (including our Animal Care Volunteers) stop going to this area, and not call or look for Dakota. If our staff members are the only ones calling for him, he is more likely to come to staff. But we want to again express how very grateful we are for all of the help we have already received and all of your generous offers.  We are blessed to be surrounded by so many people who care so greatly about Dakota, and bringing him home.

We did want to additionally remind everyone, in the further interest of public safety: deer gun season starts this Saturday, and there are several deer/tree stands in the woods where Dakota is staying. It’s too dangerous for any one of us to be moving in the woods even with blaze orange, and we need to respect the hunter’s rights.  But one house nearest to Dakota has generously agreed to let us use their yard as a feeding station & set up their trail cam on it. Even though owls in the wild do not eat every single day, without likely having eaten for several days now, Dakota is going to be getting very hungry. Staff is going to call from that feeding station starting Wed afternoon/night to draw Dakota to that area which we can safely access during hunting. Once Dakota starts feeding there, we think he may come to us, or we can utilize raptor traps.

As always, we simply cannot thank everyone enough for their kind wishes and help. We are especially grateful to the people who reported the Facebook page to the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department, and to us. That was the tip that led to the arrests, and to the information on Dakota’s location. I know some of the people I talked to wanted to be anonymous because they were worried about retribution from these suspects and their friends. It was courageous of them to report the information.  

Thank you all for caring about Dakota, and please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.  All of the positive energy everyone has been sending our way is so very, very appreciated.

(Guest Bloggers L.R. & K.P.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An update on Dakota...

We wanted to take the opportunity to once again thank everyone who has been so kind and generous in your support of the center and our beloved Dakota.  Please continue to send your prayers, well wishes, and positive energy our way. The outpouring of local & state community support from our friends, our volunteers, the public who has been touched by Dakota, and the wildlife rehabilitation community at large, has been overwhelming---and appreciated more than we can say. Thank you all for keeping Dakota in your hearts.....Dakota is our heart and soul.  He is such an important member of our family.  Our greatest wish is to have him home and safe.

The most up-to-date information we have is detailed in the latest JSOnline article:  We have had a number of people contacting the center with offers to search & questions about sightings in various spots in southeastern WI. Dakota is believed to be in the local area. If you live in the Dousman area, please continue to keep your eyes open for a great horned owl wearing jesses (leather straps like leashes, 4-6 inches long, on his ankles), or acting strangely. Dakota is fully imprinted on people, and our hope is that he would therefore be more likely to appear "tame", and more readily visible than an owl who is fully wild (and therefore more instinctively shy of people). 

We are thankful and so grateful for the many offers to help search.  At this time, we are limiting searchers to our staff and trained wildlife volunteers that help at the Wildlife In Need Center. We are searching on private property with permission and do not want to lose that permission by being too much of a bother. This must be terribly traumatic to Dakota, to be attacked by strangers the way he was, and to be loose and alone in an unfamiliar area.  We feel people he is familiar with will have the best chance of recovering him.  Additionally, because he is a Great Horned Owl, he could possibly hurt someone from fear if someone unfamiliar with raptors tried to handle him. We are so very thankful to everyone who has contacted us offering to help. There are more good people in this world than bad and that’s inspiration for all of us.

Please continue to contact the facility at 262-965-3090 with any sightings in the local Dousman area. Please also continue to contact the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department at 262-548-7126, if you have any information regarding the theft of Dakota.

Thank you all so very much for caring about wildlife, and about bringing our Dakota home. People have contacted us from all over Wisconsin, and are reporting seeing or hearing owls they think are Dakota. Many say they have never seen or heard owls in their area before.  Dakota and the Wildlife In Need Center are still educating people about owls and other wildlife, and we will never stop.  We would also like to offer our most sincere thanks to the Waukesha County Sheriffs Department for their quick action and for treating this crime as seriously as they have.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has also been most helpful to us, and is looking into the case as well.

(Guest Bloggers LR & KP.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

*** ALERT = Important, Please Read ASAP ***

The Wildlife In Need Center is a small non-profit 501c3 organization that offers free medical care to orphaned and injured wildlife with the intent to release back to the wild.

Last night on November 12th, someone broke into our outdoor compound and three of our outdoor cages.  One of the cages housed our main animal ambassador, Dakota, a great horned owl.   Dakota was taken by the thieves.

Dakota is 11 years old and has lived in captivity all but the beginning of his life. Someone kidnapped him as an infant, prior to his coming into our care. He is fully imprinted on humans and can not fend for himself or hunt for food on his own.

Dakota has reached approximately 80,000 people in his educating career not including those through the media via the newspapers and TV. He appears at over 100 programs a year making an impact on girl and boy scout troops, adult charitable organizations, schools, senior citizen facilities and special needs groups.

PLEASEif you see or find a great horned owl with jesses (leather straps that would be dangling from his legs), or see an owl that is acting very friendly please contact the Wildlife in Need Center at 262-965-3090, your local humane society, or the Waukesha County Sheriff’s department who is investigating this theft.

Many children and adults have already planned their year end holiday celebrations around Dakota, and his message has always been to promote the positive things that the Wildlife In Need Center does for wildlife and the people that live with them.

Thank you for any information or help that you can provide,
to bring Dakota back home to us.