Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Alice Gets Her Permit!

August 1st was a big day for Alice, my husband, and me. It was the day the Great Horned Owl protection law went into effect in Minnesota.

My goal was to get as much press for this new law (and Alice and the Houston Nature Center) as I could. I think I did all right, thanks to assistance from C.J. Johnson, the outdoor media relations coordinator for Explore Minnesota Tourism. We were on Twin Cities Public Television a week and a half ago, the La Crosse Tribune and Winona Daily News ran prominent articles about it, and I think we were in the Austin Post Bulletin. But we had more to do on The Big Day.

We started the day with a phone interview for Minnesota Public Radio at 6 AM. Alice knew something was up since I was up so early, and she was antsy to get going. So it was easy to get her to chitter into the phone as part of the interview.

Next we were off to the DNR central offices in St. Paul for the official presentation of the first Great Horned Owl special purpose possession permit in Minnesota. Nancy Huonder, the woman in charge of issuing these permits, had invited everyone in the offices to attend, since Alice and I were to give a short presentation afterwards. A photographer from the St. Paul Pioneer Press snapped zillions of photos as Lee Pfannmuller, Director of the Division of Ecological Services, presented us with a plaque with Alice's permit mounted on it...special purpose permit number 1! Thankfully I was also given a paper copy, since I need to carry this permit with me. Since the folks in the central office rarely get to see live animals, Alice's visit was a treat.

From there we headed over to the WCCO television studio in Minneapolis. I'm not used to such security...we had to be buzzed into the building! We were there in plenty of time to give Alice a chance to get used to the set. I put her on the arm of the chair I would be sitting in, but when a remote controlled camera moved, it scared her just enough that she hopped up to the back of the chair and pooped & cecaed...on the chair of course. My husband cleaned up what he could, but you really need to let it dry first, brush it, then hit it with OxyClean to get it completely clean, so the guy there brought us a new chair and said not to worry about it. From there on out Alice was fine in the studio. She actually looked like she was going to doze off when they brought the lights up to tape us.

That was the end of the press for the day, but I needed to return a borrowed mammoth tooth to the Science Museum in St. Paul, so we went there next. The staff enjoyed getting to meet Alice, then we let her take a nap while we got a tour of their fabulous collections. We even got to see many native american pieces that included owl feathers...some even dyed weird colors. I oogled over their collection of Great Horned Owl study skins too. Seems like they were all interesting--either pale, red, dark, big, or something.

We were all exhausted on the ride home, but once Alice was home she got a drink, killed some egg cartons, and took up her perch looking out the window as if it was just another day.

photo courtesy of MN DNR Nongame Wildlife Program

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