Local businesses get a hoot out of re-homing animal at a Rapid City business

UPDATE: The owlet is currently back in the care of the Black Hills Raptor Center after falling from the nest Thursday afternoon.


Owlet Being Held By Colt LerbackRAPID CITY, S.D. — A four-week old Great Horned Owl owlet gave business owner Bobby Whittaker quite a surprise recently when he found the bird.

“Looked down and there was an owlet there,” the Owner and Operator of the 605 Auto Plaza said.

The owlet was one of three in a nest around 30 feet above the ground atop the 605 Auto Plaza sign, hidden in the model car above it. Black Hills Raptor Center responded to the call, picking up the bird and caring for it until its release Thursday morning.

However, when it came time to get him back to his nestmates, it was time to call in some help.

“We got Chris Lerback with his sign company, they volunteered to make the lift,” President of the Black Hills Raptor Center Leon Fenhaus said. “Bierscbach donated the lift. And, you know, it’s just an amazing story.”

The lift was first deployed to scope out the best spot to access the nest, where Lerback’s company came into play.

Two workers volunteered to go up. One of which, Colt Lerback, got a crash course on safely handling a bird of prey.

Once safely in his grip, a towel was draped over the owl to help keep it calm during the trip back up to the nest.

“The instructions from the Raptor Center were really clear,” Colt Lerback said. “And when I took the towel off, it was pretty, pretty excited. Hissing and clacking at me and stuff, but when I got it into the nest, it seemed to settle down.”

With the owl safely returned to his nest, both Bobby Whittaker and the Black Hills Raptor Center will be keeping watch on the nest and the surrounding area. And in the event the parent rejects the owlet for any reason, officials will be back to pick up the animal and see that it receives proper care.

For now, it is being labeled a success, and a testament to the work of the Raptor Center.

“This– it’s a great story,” Fenhaus said. “I mean this is what our mission with the Black Hills Raptor Center includes. Protecting raptors and re-introducing them at every possible instance. And get them back in the wild where they belong.”

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Events, Local News, South Dakota News