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Police issue lock-up-your-chihuahuas killer owl warning

European flying beast threatens Wiltshire

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Wiltshire police have warned locals "not to approach" an escaped European eagle owl which could, if it felt a bit peckish, make off with cats and diminutive dogs.

The animal flew its coop in Lower Stratton on Sunday. A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman summarised: “The owner went into the enclosure and the owl flew at him. He ducked and the bird flew out."

She continued: “As it has been bred in captivity, the owl is unlikely to attack humans, but it could try to carry off a cat or small dog. If anyone spots the owl they should contact police and we will send an appropriate team with the right sort of equipment to catch it.”

Any eagle-eyed Reg reader who spots the fugitive should call Wiltshire Police on 0845 408 7000 or the RSPCA North Wiltshire branch on 01793 640136 or 0300 1234 999.

The escaped European eagle owl (aka Eurasian eagle owl, Bubo bubo) has a wingspan of two metres, and is one metre tall, the Times explains.

According to a 2008 report in the Independent, several European eagle owl pairs have established themselves in England's countryside over the years, but the species is unlikely to form a self-sustaining population without further escapes or deliberate releases.

That's just as well, according to Mark Avery, director of conservation for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who told the paper it wasn't just cats and chihuahuas who might suffer the consequences.

He said: "One of the problems is that this bird is a top predator which can eat lots of things, and we do no know which parts of our native fauna it would pick on for its prey. So it would be better if people who own captive eagle owls did not let them escape, because we don't want any nasty surprises." ®

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