On Saturday, July 29, five native Utah Barn Owls were released into the expanse of Victory Ranch’s pristine backcountry. Stephanie Young Merzel, a volunteer at Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation, along with the help of her brother Robert Chambers, rescued the creatures from predatory vulnerability in Beaver Dam, Arizona and safely transported them to the acclaimed rehabilitation facility in Price, Utah. After a brief period under attentive watch and care, Director and Founder Debbie Souza-Pappas chose to free the Barn Owls into an environment they could live a healthy and unharmed life: Victory Ranch.
Previously a medical laboratory technician, Debbie Souza-Pappas chose to enter the field of wildlife rehabilitation as a means of fulfilling her dedication to animals and educating those around her about the proper care for sick, injured and orphaned animals. The first wildlife rehabilitator in Utah, Debbie founded Second Chance to heal endangered animals and return them to their natural habitat while also promoting an awareness of and appreciation for Utah’s diverse species for the sake of future generations.
While the story of these five Barn Owls begins in Arizona, a new chapter commences at Victory Ranch. In mid-June, Robert Chambers spotted four of the owls while on a walk with his dog in Beaver Dam, choosing to relocate the birds from their dangerous habitat to nearby Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Nevertheless, Debbie told him to return to the spot in order to ensure that no owls were left behind, as babies often hide in unexposed nooks. Sure enough, Robert found two more owls. After some time at Best Friends, the Barn Owls were sent to Second Chance Wildlife Rehab in order to dwell with those that Debbie was already sheltering.
Daintrie Zega, Victory Ranch Senior Sales Advisor who volunteers and aids in bringing rescued animals to Second Chance when called upon, couldn’t have fathomed a more ideal locale than Victory Ranch to release the native owls back into the wilderness. Dedicated to the planning and management of resources toward a model of sustainability, Victory Ranch’s Conservancy is committed to maintaining the natural diversity of Utah’s native flora and fauna while restoring and protecting their ecosystems.
It is here, amongst the natural grandeur of Victory Ranch’s 6,700 unspoiled acres, that Debbie and Daintrie agreed the native Barn Owls would live a life both wild and secure. Victory Ranch is thrilled to welcome these five new residents into the community.
Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to the care of sick, injured or orphaned animals. To donate to their cause, please click here.