General Crime

* Owls Mutilated in Gilroy, Police Asking for Public Help

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A barn owl was found in Gilroy recently with its bones and primary feathers removed from its left wing such that it could not fly, and a South Bay wildlife rehabilitation center is asking for the public’s help in finding whoever is responsible for the act. The adult female owl was discovered on June 20 in a residential driveway in Gilroy, according to Sue Howell, executive director of the Morgan Hill-based Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center, which filed a police report in Gilroy on Tuesday detailing the animal cruelty. “I’ve been working with wildlife for about 30 years, and this is a new one for me,” Howell said.

The nameless owl was found in the driveway by someone who discovered it could not fly, took it inside and called police, who referred them to the wildlife center, Howell said. Center officials believe the bird had escaped or been released very recently before it was found, since if it had been on the ground for a while, its remaining feathers “would have been really ragged,” Howell said. She said the procedure of removing the bones and primary feathers, known as “pinioning,” was likely meant to keep the animal as a pet.

The procedure is sometimes performed on ducks and geese but very rarely on owls. Center officials believe the procedure was done by someone with pinioning experience because “it was such a precise cut to the bone and feather area … this was no amateur job.” Barn owls typically catch their rodent prey by swooping down and picking them up, but because this owl is unable to fly, she will never be able to be released from captivity, Howell said. She said the center would like to keep the animal for educational use in the community, but the center could face financial barriers to doing so. The bird only weighed about three-quarters of a pound when she came to the center — adult barn owls typically weigh about a pound — but has since recovered back to a normal weight, Howell said. “She’s getting her spirit back,” she said. “She’s a beautiful bird, and has a sweetness about her that’s different from the other barn owls that have come through here.”

Along with Gilroy police, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game have been notified about the case. Howell said authorities are concerned that whoever performed the procedure on the owl could do it again to other animals.

Please call the Fugitive Watch hot line at 1-800-9-CAUGHT (1-800-922-8448) or text us at 408-355-0999 or CLICK HERE to send a confidential email tip, if you have any information that can help solve this crime.

Por favor llame la línea de Los Fugitivos en 1-800-9-CAUGHT (1-800-922-8448) o texto en 408-355-0999 o haga clic aquí para enviar un email a [email protected], si usted tiene alguna información que pueda ayudar a resolver este crimen.

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