Even dead snowy owls can tell us a lot about the threats their species faces while in the south.

Such birds are important sources of information. Project SNOWstorm’s team of wildlife veterinarians and pathologists, in cooperation with state and federal wildlife agencies, is performing necropsies on as many snowy owls as possible that have died from accidents, disease or toxins.

Such postmortems, along with sophisticated lab analysis, are shedding important light on the general health of snowy owls, and the risks that environmental toxins like mercury and rodenticides pose to these birds. DNA and stable isotope testing also provide insights into the genetics, origin and diet of the owls.

All wild birds (including dead ones, their feathers and body parts) are protected by federal law. Only those with federal and state permits may possess them.

If you find a dead snowy owl, please immediately notify your state or provincial wildlife agency and follow their instructions. Keep the owl frozen unless you can deliver it immediately.

If you find an injured or incapacitated snowy owl, please contact your state wildlife agency or a local wildlife rehabilitator. Do not try to capture the owl yourself; they are powerful and potentially dangerous, even when sick or injured.