Track a snowy owl relocated from Austin Straubel airport

Falconer Frank Ujazdowski handles a snowy owl, named "Austin," which was captured at Austin Straubel International Airport in Ashwaubenon. (Photo courtesy Austin Straubel International Airport)

ASHWAUBENON (WLUK) -- There's been an increase in the number of snowy owls removed from Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport this year, and you can track the movements of one of the birds that was released.

Airport officials says they've enlisted the help of wildlife organizations and experts to capture snowy owls found on airport grounds.

“We normally have a few each winter as they migrate south, but this year we are seeing more of them," airport director Tom Miller said in a news release. "That creates a potentially dangerous situation for planes and for the birds.”

Frank Ujazdowski, a falconer from the Fox Valley, is leading a volunteer effort to trap snowy owls at the airport. Healthy birds are then released into protected wildlife areas at least 60 miles from Austin Straubel. Any unhealthy snowy owls are taken to The Feather Wildlife Rehab/Education Center near New London. So far, airport officials say, five birds have been successfully trapped. Four were released and one was taken to The Feather.

Through a partnership with Pennsylvania-based Project SNOWstorm, one of the snowy owls has been fitted with a GPS device to track its movements. The bird, named Austin, was released in the Buena Vista Wildlife Area near Wisconsin Rapids. The public can track Austin through Project SNOWstorm's website and also learn more about the bird in a blog post on the website.

The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin is covering the cost of the transmitter.

Snowy owls have been an issue at another area airport as well. Since one was shot at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh in November, several more have been trapped and released into the wild.

Snowy owls, which are native to tundra above the Arctic Circle, have been moving into Wisconsin in recent winters during annual movements called irruptions. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers information on viewing snowy owls.

Have you seen any snowy owls this winter? Share a photo or video with us:

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