On Friday, a group of Franklin County citizens banded together to rescue a visitor to the Apalachicola tennis courts.

Early that morning, Ellis Seawright noticed something unusual on the way to work. A great horned owl was standing on the wet concrete of the tennis court at 14th Street and Avenue D in Apalachicola.

When he approached the bird, he could see its back was injured but the fierce raptor was still able to take flight and perched atop the ivy-clad fence by the courts.

Seawright continued downtown but didn’t forget what he saw and told Torben Madson, who has an office next door to his shop, about the owl.

Madson made a few calls and was able to contact animal advocate Jon Johnson who contacted local shorebird technicians Ezra Thompson and Kaity Reiland-Smith who went to the court and found the bird once again on the ground at court center.

Thompson, armed with a towel, approached the bird from the front so as not to startle it and, with his help, Reiland-Smith netted the bird.

They carefully carried it to a cardboard box and gently removed it from the net and placed it inside. The box was closed so the owl would remain in the dark to help it stay calm.

The pair transported the owl to Johnson who transported it to Chris Beatty at the Florida Wild Mammal Association (FWMA) in Wakulla County.

Johnson, who is experienced in wildlife rescue, said the bird didn’t appear to have broken bones and he believed it would recover. The injuries sustained by the owl may have been the result of a territorial dispute.

Founded in 1994, FWMA is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in our North Florida region. FWMA is equally committed to educating the public on wildlife issues.

If you are in the FWMA area and find wildlife that needs assistance, please call 850-363-2351.

For more information visit fwma.org