BUCKEYE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - It was a moment many had been waiting for when four orphaned Great Horned Owlets were released back into the wild.
The event was broadcast live on the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Facebook page as a small group gathered in the desert outside Buckeye. The nearly 2,000 acres of desert upland are now home to the magnificent birds.
Game and fish wildlife manager Lainie Antolik thanked those who made the release possible. This past march, a Tolleson homeowner shot the mother and because of Antolik's investigation, he was ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution.
Liberty Wildlife also stepped in and provided a foster owl to raise the nestlings, teach them to hunt and communicate.
"I'm always impressed with what our foster moms do with these owls and then how well they do," said Laura Hackett of Liberty Wildlife.
The goal from the beginning was to give them a chance at survival and return the Great Horned Owls where they belonged.