BY MELANIE BUCK –
Tommy Young of the Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center released his 23rd Barn Owl in Polk County on Wednesday, October 22. This particular release marked his 79,940th in the last 31 years. The barn owl, which was brought to Young by a wildlife officer in April, had been rescued as a baby from the attic of a school being torn down in southeast Arkansas near the Mississippi River.
Mike and Sharon Rostollan and their daughter, Voletha, all of Rostollan Family Farms sponsored the barn owl, which was released into a nesting box on the side of a barn on their property with hopes that the owl will move into the barn.
Barn owls can live up to 100 years and can eat 1,000,000 mice in their lifetime. Young said the owls are a “farmer’s best friend.”
Young is the only endangered specialist within a 400-mile radius of the county that has permission to care for and rehabilitate endangered animals. He has released over 10,000 hawks, over 10,000 owls, 46 Bald Eagles, 37 Golden Eagles, 22,000 mammals, and 18,000 songbirds.
Young is also planning to build a new center on Highway 71 S., across from the Fish Net, on a 71-acre tract of land donated by long-time area resident Laura Lee Head. “This will provide us the financial success to become legitimate in the eyes of the system. The new center will be called DARR Facility, as per Laura Lee Head’s wishes – in honor of her parents.”
Being only 60 releases away from a total of 80,000, Young is planning a remarkable mass release of animals and birds he has nursed back to health in the coming months. Stay tuned to The Pulse to follow the countdown to 80,000 releases.