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The Owl That’s Terrorizing Holland

March 5, 2015

Eagle OwlPurmerend is a small town with a big problem.

Don’t mess with eagle owls. They have a wingspan of more than six feet, and their size enables them to eat everything from rabbits to small deer. Unfortunately for the citizens of Purmerend in the Netherlands, one owl has decided to raise a little hell. On the night of Feb. 24, “The Horror Owl,” as it’s been nicknamed by the Dutch press, swooped down and attacked two joggers. Both were rushed to a hospital; one was treated for five separate head wounds. But they aren’t the owl’s only victims. Earlier that same day, the big bird assaulted three other humans. To date, the owl has been blamed for 15 attacks.

The locals, needless to say, are on high alert and officials have warned to them to stay on their guard while walking outdoors, especially at night. As Purmerend resident Liselotte de Bruijn told the press: “The problem is that you don’t hear the owl before it strikes. Its claws are razor-sharp.” To help keep everybody safe, the Dutch bank chain Rabobank donated dozens of umbrellas.

Purmerend officials are also giving a hoot and they’re doing what they can to end the owl’s reign of terror. They think that the bird must have been raised in captivity and it now associates humans with food—it may not be trying to hurt humans, so much as it’s looking for something to eat. It’s illegal for people to hunt owls in the Netherlands but the town was given an exemption. On March 4, a falconer was hired to bring the owl to justice.

This isn’t the first time this winter an owl has caused trouble. A similar bird recently created lots of problems in Salem, Oregon’s Bush Pasture Park. So if you’re jogging there looking out for “Owl Capone.”

It’s a wild world out there. For more nature/animal trivia, check out Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Nature Calls.

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