Activists could be to blame for break in

ANIMAL rights campaigners could be responsible for breaking into aviaries and releasing birds of prey who may now die in the wild.

ANIMAL rights campaigners could be responsible for breaking into aviaries and releasing birds of prey who may now die in the wild.

Around 30 cages at The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in Stonham Barns were cut open and ten birds, including two eagles, were released into the wild after the activists, or possibly vandals, used bolt cutters to cut through the strong gates.

Stella Garrett, an administrator at the sanctuary, said: “Our falconers suspect this was animal rights activists, although it could have been kids, or someone thinking it was funny, but no-one is laughing.

“Whoever it was has no brain cells. These birds will die in the wild. They were hand reared and tame.


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“Because they are so tame they do not know how to look for food and we must find them. The owls are not valuable, but they are priceless to us. It's such a shame. We have had our shop broken into before, but never had birds released.”

Staff managed to catch five of the birds, but five more were on the loose including a Burrowing owl, Great Horned owl, African Spotted Eagle owl, Tawny owl and a Pharoah Eagle owl.

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By lunchtime yesterday the spotted eagle owl had been found hiding in a hedge on site and the Great Horned Owl was discovered in a tree there, with volunteers who had come in to help in the search climbing up to rescue the beautiful bird.

Now the search continues for Titch, the one-year-old Burrowing owl, Isis, the 11-year-old Pharoah owl, and Gollum the tawny owl, four.

All were hand reared from chicks and Titch could probably only survive for three days without food.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary said they were open to any lines of inquiry, including that animal rights activists were responsible.

Those with information should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

N If you spot the owls call sanctuary staff on 01449 711425 daytimes, or 07932 315711 evenings.

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