Ten days have passed since Dakota the great-horned owl was snatched from its cage at the Oconomowoc Wildlife in Need Center, and until now, Dakota has never had to survive in the wild. Center staff are still trying to bait Dakota, but say that it's possible Dakota's natural instincts are starting to kick in.
The center has received an outpouring of support from the community since Dakota was taken. They've received cards and well-wishes from kids who used to visit Dakota. Center staff say there is a lot of interest from the community as to Dakota's status.
"We're still getting lots of calls throughout the week, asking for an update and asking how he's doing. We have search groups that consist of our staff and volunteers going out multiple times a day, to check the bait situation, and look around with binoculars, or just call for him," Mandy Feavel with the Wildlife in Need Center said.
Feavel says she last heard Dakota's call on Saturday. Center staff say it's likely Dakota is very hungry, and they hope he'll come to one of their baiting stations, as he's never had to hunt before, but they don't deny his natural instincts may lead him to food.
"If he hears a mouse on the ground, he may try to get it, but he's never had to hunt. When they're first learning, they can be unsuccessful, so he would really have to have some practice before he would probably get anything," Feavel said.
Center staff say they've widened their search area to about three miles of private land. They were worried they'd have to stop searching once gun deer season began last weekend, but fortunately that hasn't been the case. They've been wearing blaze orange to search during the day, and at night, they can call out to Dakota without disturbing deer and hunters.
Two teens, 17-eyar-old Dilan White, and 18-year-old Matthew Kuhlemeyer have been charged with taking Dakota. The criminal complaint in the case says the two "wrapped Dakota in a towel," and took him to a friend's house, where "the owl got away, flew into a tree, and flew off over the lake." Officers found the teens after a friend posted a picture of the owl to Facebook.