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Pet owners relieved as giant eagle owl is captured in Northam

By NDJPhilippa  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

  • The male eagle owl in the background pictured looking at female eagle owl Sage in a Northam garden on Sunday

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AN eagle owl with a six foot wing span has been caught in Northam after some people complained it was terrorising them and their pets.

The huge bird of prey was caught in Bay View Road yesterday.

But while some residents were pleased the owl has been caught others were unhappy and complained to police that it had been taken illegally.

Sandra and Peter Morris, who live in Bay View Road, said they were relieved when the owners of the Owls R Us owl sanctuary, in Chulmleigh, Jo and Nigel Palmer, managed to catch the bird yesterday afternoon.

Peter, 65, said: “We haven't been able to let our three young grandchildren out in the garden for months. We got more concerned when the owl tried to attack our poodle Minnie.

“Minnie was out in the garden and I saw the owl swoop. I got in the way to protect the dog and the bird flew into me. It didn't draw blood or knock me over but it was a big weight.

“We love the bird to bits. We have seen it in our garden since February, but it was just the risk it was posing. We were beginning to feel really trapped in our home and it really has been a worry. We know being in a sanctuary will be the best for the bird's welfare. It has been looking so lonely.”

Owl keeper Ian Berwick agreed it was in the owl's interest it should be kept in a safer place. Ian, who owns a female eagle owl called Sage, said: “It is fairer for the bird and it has obviously been let out or escaped because otherwise it wouldn't respond to food like it does.”

Ian said the male owl had been looking for a mate so he tried to lure it with his own bird Sage on Sunday but was unsuccessful.

It’s understood some of the street’s residents enjoyed having the owl around and were leaving food out for it.

PC Martin Beck, a police wildlife liaison officer, confirmed an investigation was ongoing and would be completed once a DEFRA licence for the bird’s capture had been obtained.

The eagle owl has been a talking point in North Devon for more than a year after it was first spotted in Westward Ho! in October 2011. It has also been sighted in Barnstaple, Landkey and Combe Martin.

Have you spotted the Eagle Owl in North Devon? Send us your pictures or get in touch to let us know! Call 01271 347441 or email pjenkins@northdevonjournal.co.uk

VIDEO: The European Eagle Owl captured on film in Westward Ho! in October 2011:

PHOTO GALLERY: Eagle Owl spotted in Combe Martin, North Devon

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  • agent47  |  December 07 2012, 2:44PM

    I have been following this story; all in all it ended quite well for the owl the neighbours & the captor. Resident 101 is right no need to say any more apart from did owl's r us get the 6 months imprisonment or the £5000 fine he so often referred to or indeed was he charged at all? & where was the wild owl eventually released? He wasn't & It wasn't mmmm yeh I think you are totally right there is little reason to say any more the facts pretty much speak for themselves.

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  • resident101  |  November 29 2012, 9:44AM

    This owl has been removed from owls r us by the RSPCA, need I say more.........

  • Whitestarling  |  November 23 2012, 12:00AM

    I think while you Guys are arguing over the legal whys and wherefors you are completely missing the important point. Thats the welfare of not only People Children, and Pets, but also the wefare of the Owl itself. An imprinted or habituated Animal is as much at risk from humans as they are to humans, because they leave themselves wide open to any attack. As we all know in this Country by the time different agencies, and organisations get together to sort something out, its an accident waiting to happen. The Owl has been removed from all those possibilities by a person with experience of handling this type of Bird, and is now in a place where it can be safely properly assessed as to wether it's an imprinted Bird, or not if it turns out to be wild then it can be released into an area that is a safer invironment for it, if it is imprinted as it almost certainly is from its feeding habits, and the area was inhabiting, then a decision can be made on its future. That can only be good for the Owl, which surely after all is what this is about, not scoring points of each other. One person said their Dog was as much at risk of being attacked, as being run over crossing the road, have you seen the road traffic accident statistics. An imprinted Owl, is'nt taught as an Owlett by its parents about what type of prey it should be going after, and that is a very dangerous thing. If any of you are any boubt about the power, and force of an attack by this type of Bird then I suggest you watch the following video http://tinyurl.com/cd2dbwa

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  • resident101  |  November 22 2012, 8:47PM

    Again, who gave you authority to take the owl- Natural England had not heard of you or owl are us at the time the owl was being illegally taken. Are you stating that you have contacted them since? The issue has been who gave you permission to take the owl, of this you have not answered and seem to be unable to answer. Natural England only heard about this event through worried residents, the driver of the van stated he does not have a licence from them. If any body has any doubt of the legality I would direct you to http://tinyurl.com/b9nkf96 the world owl's trust- who really are experts in the field of the eagle owl.

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  • Allaboutme  |  November 22 2012, 2:14PM

    Well another ludicrous avoidance of answering the question eh!!? It was taken illegally, it was not a captive bird, it was successfully living in the wild without eating anyones pet! How often did it "hang out" in these peoples gardens? You can surely get something to "scare" the bird off so it wouldn't come near your garden? What gives us the right to decide the fate of a wild bird/animal. Oh is it because we believe we are top of the chain? I have an incredibly tiny dog and often walk in this area! I am even aware that due to the size of my dog he could get snatched by any bird of prey...do you know what I make sure as a responsible dog owner that my dog is kept under control and close to me at all times. Awful if anything happened to him but thats the risk I take for having such a small dog. He is more likely to be attachked by another dog than a bird of prey!

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  • Sageeurasian  |  November 22 2012, 1:11PM

    No again you are talking rubbish I don't know how many times it needs to be said. I contacted natural England as did Torridge district councils wildlife officer anybody in any doubt contact the council & simply ask, the reason he contacted them is because I contacted him. The police are only involved because you are acting like a small child who cannot get his own way they in turn did contact the RSPCA who have examined the bird at owls r us, just try to be logical for one second if there was a problem with the birds welfare would the bird have been left with owls r us? it is a bit of a no brainer but others will arrive at the correct answer, your issue is revenge on us & your neighbours not the birds welfare.

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  • resident101  |  November 22 2012, 12:20PM

    What happened to the owl was illegal, that is what the objections are, that is why investigations are taking place. That is why agencies have become involved from Natural England, RSPB, the police, and the world owl trust.........what happened was not correct and did not follow the law. You did not have the authority to decide the legal status of the owl and remove a bird of prey from the wild. What I have repeatedly said is that this decision should have been taken by the agency's employed to do so, not a member of the public, highlighted by the methods of capture used, and the disregard for agency's involved (quote ' Natural England is up it's own a**e' by the driver of the owls r us van). You continue to try and attack people who make points on the legality of the capture rather than answer the questions posed, just as you didn't have any authority over the owl, you try and blame people who came close to the owl, whilst having stated on the day that you would have fed the owl yourself. Your 'helpful' nature would be more helpful if it stayed within the boundaries of the law, on all occasions.....

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  • Sageeurasian  |  November 22 2012, 11:32AM

    Whitestarling gets it entirely, I would be the first to welcome there being wild Eurasian Eagle owls or fish eagles around here or anywhere else in the UK come to that, they would settle away from humans but we would get glimpses of them which would be an fantastic sight. But this is not the case here. Out of the blue I was asked for help by some people remembering my nature is to help if it's at all possible however inconvenient that may be I make no excuses for that it's just me, anybody who knows me knows if anyone asked I will do my upmost to provide that help. Once approached I looked into it & tried to provide that help. I am now getting lots of stick for only doing what ultimately needed to be done. I even tried to help 2 of the people who fed the bird by calling & arranging free continued access to the captured soon to be captured owl as well as access to sage my owl as I could see they clearly loved being around this bird so I was trying to make the situation more bearable for them whilst also helping the others in fear & helping the bird, I also allowed the main feeders to handle my bird which I almost never do plus I took pictures for them & emailed them in return I received a less than nice text & my bird sage was then ran down by the very people who claim to be bird lovers & questioning my husbandry skills & the legitimacy of my bird. I did not set out to cause anybody any problems & I am sorry that it upset the two main feeders & their friend who clearly is the main person trying to stir things up, this situation could not have continued as inevitably it would have led to the birds death & now although not free it is safe & that has to be good.

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  • Whitestarling  |  November 22 2012, 12:11AM

    Having read the story, and the comments. I think the problem is that people are confusing the issue of this particular Owl with wild breeding European Owls in the UK. If the Owls are truly wild, and have not been imprinted then they should be no danger to humans. However its very clear in all cases of wildlife releases where animals can be a danger to human beings, that if an animal has been imprinted, then it should not be released as it has no fear of humans. That rule applies all over the world. From the stories about this Owl, its clearly been imprinted, and has no fear of being close to humans, and expecting food from them. Whilst there have been no reports of attacks as yet, it will only need one, where a Baby, Toddler, or Pet is attacked, and this Owl would have then been in danger of being shot, or worse. Before anyone says that there have been no reported attacks by these Owls in the UK, one only happened as recently as September in South Shields, and this was on a 17 Yr Old. http://tinyurl.com/b5f26mx On the coast where I live Gulls will now attack people for food that they have in their hands, they have lost their fear of humans through constantly beeing fed. If Gulls will do it so will Owls that have been imprinted, so the lesson is already there.

  • Sageeurasian  |  November 20 2012, 10:18PM

    You do make some fair points however when a bird with this crushing strength & talons that large attacking people goes beyond consultation. As for re releasing it that could never happen as its illegal to release a imprinted captive bred bird & they are always the most dangerous precisely because they don't have a natural fear of man. The very people complaining the most are the ones whoa fe the situation so much worse by feeding it in a built up area. The problem is not the size power or fear of taking fluffy things for food the problem is it was stopping people from enjoying the garden & outside space they had worked hard to buy the bird & human expectations clashed not really the birds fault but the fault of the people who released it & the people who bribed encouraged it to continue to rely on humans for food

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