Authorities in Purmerend, a northern Dutch town, have advised its residents to protect themselves using an umbrella if they venture out of their homes at night. An owl gone berserk has been staging bloody attacks on unsuspecting pedestrians.
The European eagle owl has been staging attacks swooping silently on several residents of this laid back community with many of the victims requiring medical treatment.
The latest assault victims saw two athletic club members scurrying for safety. One was unfortunate enough to experience the sharp talons of the night marauder slicing his head skin which needed six stitches. The club has cancelled all its night session trainings until the situation comes back to normal.
The attacks, which has numbered to 15 at the latest count, has all residents and personnel at Prinsenstichting home for the handicapped terrified, spokeswoman Liselotte de Bruijn told AFP
“During the day there’s no problem, but at night we now only venture outside armed with umbrellas, helmets and hats, anything really, to protect ourselves,” said De Bruijn.
“The problem is that you don’t hear the owl before it strikes. Its claws are razor-sharp,” she said.
“We hope the city will soon catch this rogue bird.”
Members of the Purmerend city council said they are trying to end the situation soon.
“We want to catch the owl as our city’s residents are in danger,” it said on its website, noting however that the European eagle owl is a protected species that requires special permission to be trapped.
“These procedures can still take some time. Meanwhile, we are advising people to stay away from the owl,” the city said, telling night strollers in the area to shield themselves with umbrellas.
Gejo Wassink of the Netherlands’ OWN owl foundation said the bird’s behavior was not normal.
“Either the owl was reared in captivity and released into the wild and now associates humans with food — meaning it’s not really ‘attacking’ people.”
“Or it may have heightened hormone levels as the breeding season starts, which influences its behavior and makes it defend its territory,” Wassink told AFP, saying the bird “appears to be a female”.
He explained the problem that usually occurs when people hand-rearing owls and then letting them go free into the wild. There exist a potential for increase attacks.
The European eagle owl is considered as one of the largest owl species, having a wing-span of up to 1.80 meters (almost six feet) and weighing up to three kilos (seven pounds).