The case of the missing owl

Research project put on hold after stuffed owl is stolen

By Ryan Schmit


A stuffed owl being used by three students for a term project went missing Friday, Nov. 1 between the hours of 2 and 3 p.m. The owl has since been recovered by Residence Life staff. Before it was taken, the owl was last seen in front of Farr Hall after one of the students working on the project left the owl by a tray of peanuts to go tutor. When she returned to check on the experiment at 3, the owl was missing. Environmental Health & Safety Officer Dana Moracco sent out an email shortly after to the student body and faculty to notify everyone of the missing owl mount.

A few days later on Sunday, Nov. 3, a resident assistant emailed Dana to inform her that two students found the owl and asked to return it to her. After the owl was found, the RAs did a follow up investigation. When the owl was originally stolen, an RA saw two white males walking from Farr Hall with the owl. One of them was wearing a blue jacket and the other was wearing a gray jacket. Currently, this is the only lead the college has on who took the owl.

The three students who are working on the project with the taxidermy owl are Mica Rivera (2021), Rebecca Groat (2021), and Morgan Exner (2020). They are researching anti-predation behaviors which are what makes it harder for predators to kill animals. The students are trying to see if squirrels will eat less food when cues of predators are present, hence the peanut tray in front of the owl. The group was working on their fourth trial for the experiment when the owl was stolen.

Due to the snow, the students are not close to completing the project and have many more trials to complete before they have gathered enough data. For more information regarding the project, contact Mica Rivera.

Ripon College’s campus has students constantly engaging in research projects and running experiments for ecology and most 300 level classes.

“If you see anything that looks weird, set up with food, or anything set up on campus, do not touch it. People do not realize that this strange stuff on campus is actually research and by messing with it, the data being collected is ruined. This will be happening in the Spring semester as well so it is important that everyone respects the materials students set out for their research projects,” Rivera said.