NEWS 2008 page 2

September 5/6 — British eagle owl population up by three . . . for a day

Someone broke into the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary's premises on the night of 4-5th Sept and cut locks on the aviaries. Five owls went missing, including three "eagle owls" — a Great Horned Owl, an African Spotted Owl and a Pharoah Eagle Owl. The others were a Burrowing Owl and a Tawny Owl . It is believed that the birds escaped rather than being stolen and that animal rights activists were responsible. [Bury Free Press 5/9/08]

Fortunately all the owls except one were found lurking in nearby bushes, hedges or trees over the next couple of days. The missing bird is the Pharoah Eagle Owl, known as Isis. It's described as large and sandy in colour. Anyone who sees it should call the Sanctuary on 01449 711425. [EADT24, Evening Star]

Soapbox bit: If it was animal rights activists, this was a daft thing to do. The Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) in particular would have stood little chance. Eagle owls may fare better. Choosing September to do this — with deteriorating weather and food supplies running down — suggests that the people involved had little idea what they were doing.

Some of the Sanctuary's birds can be seen in a six-minute video on YouTube. Gollum the Tawny Owl, who was spotted in a tree at 5 am on the second day of the search, appears right at the end.

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