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Owl rescued from truck grill released back into wild

Officials initally thought owl was dead

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(Lake County Fire Rescue via WKMG/Lakana Sharing)

Mount Dora, Fla. – An injured owl that Lake County, Florida, officials rescued from the grill of a truck last month was nursed back to health and released into the wild Saturday afternoon, Lake County Fire Rescue officials said.

When Lt. Robert Staab and firefighter Brian Tindell rescued a barred owl, which they named "Lucky," from the grill of Laura McQuilkin's Dodge pickup in December, they thought they would never see him fly again.

"We expected more of a body removal than a rescue," Staab said. "We got there, took a flashlight and looked at the front of the truck, and there he was looking back at us."

After consulting with Florida Wildlife Control, the firefighters wrapped the owl in a jacket, took him back to the station, placed him in a dog kennel and transported Lucky to the Avian Rehabilitation Center in Apopka, Florida.

Lucky was nursed back to health after weeks of care, and his fractured tibia was healed. The owl was returned to the wild in Lake County on Saturday.

McQuilkin joined the firefighters, along with Lucky's rehabilitation team, and was moved to tears as she personally released the owl at Gilbert Park in Mount Dora.

"I'm excited beyond words. He's just such a beautiful owl. I'm so happy he's OK," McQuilkin said.