Saturday, December 3, 2011

Increasing Dakota Awareness & Education

This has been a very busy week for us at WINC, due in large part to our efforts to continue to reach out to the community and increase awareness of Dakota’s situation. We know our efforts are working, because we have been contacted by so many new people who have reached out to us: people who have just started following our blog & our facebook page, people who have now seen our flyers and heard about our search locally, and people who are becoming aware of Dakota from news stories and the internet. It is an amazing thing to see, just how many people have been touched by Dakota’s plight, and the awesome distances his story has traveled. We have been getting calls from as far away as Canada, from people who want to share information with us & help us in any way they are able, and to contribute ideas to our efforts to see Dakota home once again. It cannot be overstated how heartened we are for the continued well wishes and positive support we receive. If there has been any upside to this sad situation, it has been the constant stream of caring we have been blessed with. We are humbled by the generosity of spirit the community has for Dakota, and overwhelmed by how he continues to educate, even during this current situation.

As a part of our education and outreach efforts, we would like to remind everyone that during this difficult time for WINC, one of the things that is of the utmost importance to us is that we return the respect we have received. We are ever mindful that we want our impact on the community to be a positive one, and ever mindful that the example we set in our search methods allows us to achieve maximum impact with a minimum “footprint”. We are striving to be very respectful of the people who live in the neighborhoods we are searching in, and are therefore keeping our search parties small and quiet in nature. We are so very grateful for the opportunities we have been given to search on private property with permission, and wish to publicly thank everyone who has so graciously allowed us to continue searching on their land. We are also grateful that everyone who has offered to help us search has continued to contact WINC before acting alone, and has allowed us to take the lead on any organized searches. This in turn has allowed us to conduct ongoing searches with minimal disturbance to the community, and maximum respect to it.  No search parties organized by WINC will ever venture onto private property wihout permission.

We are also mindful of the impact our searches have on the environment, and mindful that we continue to fulfill our core mission of helping wildlife in need, and not creating any in the process by disturbing the existing balance. We have been very careful not to create nuisances, both by being selective of where we place our feeding stations, and not disturbing the patterns of existing wildlife in any of the areas we are searching. Above all else, we would never want our efforts in our search for Dakota to bring any harm to the existing wildlife in the areas we are searching. We take extreme care not to harass any wildlife in those areas, and to be respectful of their habitats & not disturb them. Again, we want to thank everyone who has chosen to help us to watch out for Dakota for the care they have also taken and continue to take, to always be respectful of the wildlife that lives in those areas. Though we have stated it in our poster, it bears repeating: if you spot a Great Horned Owl that you believe to be Dakota, please, please, PLEASE do not approach him or call to him.  Please watch him closely while being extremely quiet, and contact the Wildlife In Need Center immediately. Dakota will respond to his handlers, and may be frightened by people he does not already know and is comfortable with.  We would not want anyone to inadvertantly further traumatize Dakota, or unduly traumatize any other owl(s) in the area who might be mistaken for Dakota.

During this past week we have continued to hand out informational flyers during our daily foot searchs, and have followed up on many leads from people who have reported hearing owls in their area. Unfortunately, we still have not been successful in pinpointing Dakota's exact location. We have heard owl calls from time to time, but not always received responses that we could definitively identify as Dakota’s. We have made some minor changes to the locations of the feeding stations, but still have not seen any measurable evidence that he is visiting them. Even though it may seem obvious, one of the things that people sometimes forget is that, even if he is not catching live prey, Dakota will eat dead animals. And even if he is not visiting the feeding stations to do so, he may be finding other food in that manner. We remain optimistic that Dakota is eating on his own.

We also remain optimistic Dakota remains in the general area. There is a statistic on released owls that points to most of them staying in a 5-mile radius from the area they are released in. As we know the approximate area Dakota was in when he escaped his captors, we have a fairly good idea of the areas we need to be most watchful for him in. Additionally, part of that range for us includes both our current building and grounds, and our old building. We have had many people ask, and yes---we do search the premises around our old building on a regular basis, on the chance Dakota has found his way back to that area.

The most important thing that we want people to remember is, we have not given up on our efforts to locate Dakota. We absolutely believe he is out there, and we will absolutely continue to search for him, and continue to raise awareness of him throughout the community. The eyes and the ears of the local community are one of the greatest resources we have available to us.  We have know from the very beginning that this would not be an easy process, but we remain committed to bringing him home. He is such an important member of our family, we are not whole without him.

Please continue to help us to find Dakota by remaining observant and vigilant especially when you are in the Dousman/Hunter’s Lake area. We have an improved version of our original flyer available & attached to this blog for download. We've added some specific information about Dakota's behavior and habits that we hope will prove helpful in further increasing education & raising awareness of Dakota in the local community. As previously mentioned, we’d like to again invite everyone to 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. 
((Reminder: it is ILLEGAL to place flyers in mailboxes.))

Thank you for your continued support of Dakota, and of WINC. Please continue to keep the faith that he remains strong, and will be home with us again soon.

(Guest Blogger K.P.)


  1. My heart remains broken each day Dakota is not rescued. I hope he is finding food to sustain himself. I will continue my prayers for his safe return.

  2. I really, really, really, hope that Dakota is found and brought back home where he should be. My prayers are to you that this process will be safe and finally get Dakota in our hands again. Good Luck!

  3. Best Wishes to the team and Dakota

  4. I pray 10 times every day that Dakota will be found and brought home. This has been my family's topic ever since he disappeared. Hopefully he returns soon

  5. I pray for Dakota every day. God bless Dakota and all of you. I cannot wait for the day Dakota is home where he belongs. All of our prayers will bring him home soon.

  6. Praying that he will be found soon!

  7. It is the greatest news I could hear today that Dakota has been found! A celebration of some kind is truly needed!!!! My prayers and everyone else's has been answered!

  8. WOW did I just hear that Dakota was found? If so, my heart is dancing....Thatta boy for the will recover....keep fighting...