'Wrong' & 'illegal': Orphaned owl held by Arizona resident handed over to Liberty Wildlife 6 months later

It’s a problem ruffling feathers at Liberty Wildlife – people not turning in wild animals to a proper facility and instead keeping them as pets.

That’s what they say happened to one little owl.

Liberty Wildlife says despite how cute and cuddly the owl looks, it’s a problem and one they want to highlight as we’re still in baby and fledging season.

At this time of year, you might see them more out in the wild. The place, experts say, they belong.

A young Great horned owl rests at Liberty Wildlife in Phoenix. They don’t know if it's a boy or girl yet, but whatever it is, the bird is a total hoot.

But, the friendly behaviors are ruffling the feathers of biologists like Laura Hackett.

"It should be terrified of humans, it should not want to be around humans. This one has taken mice from our hands, he’s let us pick him up, he makes cute little baby noises, so he’s obviously too comfortable around humans," she said.

She says that was clear when it first came in Monday morning.

"The problem is, he was brought to us this morning by somebody who found him six months ago and decided to hold onto him for six months instead of getting him to a rehabilitator right away," she said.

That will likely impact the bird forever.

Hackett says he’s too domesticated to survive out in the wild.

"He has no idea how to communicate with another owl out in the wild, so if we released him, he wouldn’t know who to go mate with, he wouldn’t know who his predators are, and he would land in our backyard and expect food from us. As cute and as fluffy and fuzzy as he looks, when he doesn’t get what he wants, his natural instinct is going to be to use those talons to try to grab and try to get what he wants and be territorial," she explained.

Photo from Liberty Wildlife

To make that point clear, she made a Facebook post, asking people who wanted the owl. An attempt to get their attention to share a very important message.

"Not only is it wrong to have a wild animal in your house, but it's illegal, so you can face federal charges," she warned. 

Vets will be giving the owl an exam before making a decision on where it should go.

If you ever see an orphaned wild animal, you’re urged to call Liberty Wildlife, so they can help with the next steps.