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‘Terror owl’ trapped in Dutch city

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A rogue owl that has terrorised a northern Dutch city for the past year, forcing citizens to arm themselves with umbrellas at night, has finally been caught, officials announced Friday.

Dubbed the "terror owl" by residents of Purmerend north of Amsterdam, the aggressive European eagle owl is suspected of more than 50 attacks on humans, swooping silently from above and leaving many of its victims bloody and bruised.

"The animal was trapped by a falconer today," the Purmerend city council said in a statement, issued Friday evening.

"It's in good health and is currently being kept in a temporary facility awaiting a transfer once a proper permanent home has been found," it added.

The large owl is suspected of a spate of mysterious attacks on citizens over the last year, prompting the city to advise evening strollers to arm themselves with umbrellas for protection against aerial assaults.

"The attacks were getting heavier," the city said, adding "many people were afraid to go out of their homes."

As the owl is a protected animal, the city had to get special permission to trap the creature. Once that was granted, a falconer set out on a bird-hunt.

In one of the owl's many assaults, two members of a local athletics clubs were attacked last month, with one runner requiring stitches for six head wounds caused by the nocturnal bird of prey's talons.

A woman wears special headgear handed out at a store in Purmerend  on March 3  2015 for protection a...
A woman wears special headgear handed out at a store in Purmerend, on March 3, 2015 for protection against the European Eagle owl
Olaf Kraak, ANP/AFP

Owl experts have said the bird's behaviour was unusual, meaning it was either raised in captivity and associated humans with food, or had heightened hormone levels because of the start of the breeding season.

The European eagle owl is one of the largest owl species, with a wing-span of up to 1.80 metres (almost six feet) and weighing up to three kilos (seven pounds).

City council member Mario Hegger said he had mixed feelings about the owl's capture.

"On the one hand, you would of course rather leave such a magnificent beast alone," he said in the statement.

"But on the other hand, the situation could not continue. We had to do something," Hegger said.

A rogue owl that has terrorised a northern Dutch city for the past year, forcing citizens to arm themselves with umbrellas at night, has finally been caught, officials announced Friday.

Dubbed the “terror owl” by residents of Purmerend north of Amsterdam, the aggressive European eagle owl is suspected of more than 50 attacks on humans, swooping silently from above and leaving many of its victims bloody and bruised.

“The animal was trapped by a falconer today,” the Purmerend city council said in a statement, issued Friday evening.

“It’s in good health and is currently being kept in a temporary facility awaiting a transfer once a proper permanent home has been found,” it added.

The large owl is suspected of a spate of mysterious attacks on citizens over the last year, prompting the city to advise evening strollers to arm themselves with umbrellas for protection against aerial assaults.

“The attacks were getting heavier,” the city said, adding “many people were afraid to go out of their homes.”

As the owl is a protected animal, the city had to get special permission to trap the creature. Once that was granted, a falconer set out on a bird-hunt.

In one of the owl’s many assaults, two members of a local athletics clubs were attacked last month, with one runner requiring stitches for six head wounds caused by the nocturnal bird of prey’s talons.

A woman wears special headgear handed out at a store in Purmerend  on March 3  2015 for protection a...

A woman wears special headgear handed out at a store in Purmerend, on March 3, 2015 for protection against the European Eagle owl
Olaf Kraak, ANP/AFP

Owl experts have said the bird’s behaviour was unusual, meaning it was either raised in captivity and associated humans with food, or had heightened hormone levels because of the start of the breeding season.

The European eagle owl is one of the largest owl species, with a wing-span of up to 1.80 metres (almost six feet) and weighing up to three kilos (seven pounds).

City council member Mario Hegger said he had mixed feelings about the owl’s capture.

“On the one hand, you would of course rather leave such a magnificent beast alone,” he said in the statement.

“But on the other hand, the situation could not continue. We had to do something,” Hegger said.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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