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Game warden checks on baby owl that he saved from piece of driftwood floating in Oologah Lake

Posted at 6:48 PM, May 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 10:27:39-04

ROGERS COUNTY, Okla. -- The spotlight is shining on a public servant in Green Country after thousands of people watched a video of him saving a helpless baby owl stranded on a flooded lake.

Joe Alexander, a state game warden based in Washington County, said he formed an unlikely bond with an owl that he ferried to safety last Thursday.

"If you were in the same shoes as the bird, you would appreciate all the help that you can get," Alexander said. "I believe it made a difference in his life, so it just gives him a second chance."

He went out to the swollen bank of Oologah Lake after a man called to report a tiny owl floating on a piece of driftwood.

"Animals are resourceful," Alexander said. "Owls are known to be wise, so perhaps this youngster was pretty wise."

He said getting to the owl proved to be difficult initially because the water was too high to wade into at the time. Instead he called a Nowata firefighter, who brought out his boat and carried him out to the timber where the bird was perched.

"We were able to make a quick rescue of the owl, get him back to the shoreline and get him wrapped up in a warm coat," Alexander said.

The firefighter recorded a video of the entire water rescue on his phone because Alexander said what they did may have seemed unlikely to many others.

"We jokingly said that nobody's going to believe this," Alexander said with a laugh.

Once he got back to dry land, he took the cold, wet bird to Wild Heart Ranch to get it the care it needed. "It's an excellent place," Alexander said. "It's ideal for this bird to be here."

Rescuers said they expect to release the owl back into the wild in three to four months, and Alexander said he would like to be there when that happens.