Owl in distress: Deputy Wes Chafa to the rescue

Siler City, NC – In his off-duty hours, Deputy Wes Chafa is an avid outdoorsman and a seasoned hunter, and those time-tested skills have helped him in the line of duty, too. In his two years as a deputy with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Chafa has been called upon to wrangle the occasional critter – usually snakes or opossums – that made their unwelcome way into someone’s home.

Chatham Deputy Wes Chafa with rescued horned owl

But until Sunday, February 18, Deputy Chafa had never encountered an owl. An unusual call for assistance that night from a motorist on U.S. 64, however, changed that.

The situation began after a driver unwittingly collided with a great horned owl, ensnaring the bird – the largest species of owl in North Carolina — in the front grill and bumper of his vehicle.

Deputy Chafa responded, and when he arrived on the scene, he found the owl alive but trapped.

Donning a pair of gloves, the deputy methodically went about the task of freeing the frightened owl from its bonds, slowly and gently tucking its wings and feet to remove him from the grill with minimal stress.

“After I was able to remove him from the grill, I checked him out as best I could,” said Deputy Chafa.

Marveling at the owl’s resilience, the deputy held it for about 30 minutes while its heartbeat and breathing settled.

A short time later, a N.C. Wildlife Officer arrived on the scene and confirmed that the owl appeared to suffer no damage from his run-in with the vehicle.

Cradling it, Deputy Chafa carried the bird uphill away from the noise and bustle of U.S. 64 to a nearby wooden fence, placing it on the perch.

AI generated image of a great horned owl sitting on a fence on a moon lit night.

“After a few minutes,” Deputy Chafa said, “he stretched out his wings and took off. It was super cool to see.”

“This was one of the most unusual calls I’ve answered,” said Deputy Chafa. “And one of the most memorable.”

Thanks to Deputy Chafa’s swift and compassionate action, and the collaborative efforts of N.C. Wildlife officials, the great horned owl emerged from its roadside ordeal unharmed, ready to continue its nocturnal adventures in the wild.