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Owl was not shot dead say police

PUBLISHED: 13:38 24 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:49 02 March 2010

FETLAR the snowy owl was not shot dead as originally thought.

The body of five-year-old Fetlar, who stood at 20 inches tall with a 4ft 6inch wingspan, was found by a holidaymaker at a caravan park in Dunwich, Suffolk on Sunday, April 18.

FETLAR the snowy owl was not shot dead as originally thought.

The body of five-year-old Fetlar, who stood at 20 inches tall with a 4ft 6inch wingspan, was found by a holidaymaker at a caravan park in Dunwich, Suffolk on Sunday, April 18.

The owl had been roosting in nearby trees since he escaped from the Owl Sanctuary at Stonham Aspal, as he was being exercised late last month.

Sanctuary staff, who had been trying to lure him back, at first believed he had been shot by a mystery sniper with an air rifle.

Suffolk police said they were no longer treating the death of Fetlar as a criminal offence because there was nothing to indicate he had been shot.

"As a result of inquiries by local officer Pc Mark Bryant and a post mortem examination of the body of Fetlar, carried out by a local veterinary surgeon today, there is no evidence that the bird was shot.

"It appears the owl died as a result of massive bruising and trauma to the neck. Therefore the police investigation is being closed," a police spokeswoman said.

Sanctuary staff said they first thought Fetlar had been shot because the only visible wound was a large hole in his neck.

"When the body was brought back we had a look at him and there was a big hole going right through to the vertebrae and so we thought he had been shot with an air rifle and that was the only physical injury he had.

"Now we don't know what to think, it's a complete mystery,' a sanctuary spokesman said.

The saga began when Fetlar, who resembles Hedwig in the Harry Potter films, flew away as he was being exercised by falconer Gary Butcher.

He had been able to feed himself by catching rabbits and handlers had been hopeful he would eventually be caught and returned to the sanctuary.

The spokesman said it was a relief to know there was no foul play involved in the bird's death but it did not make up for the loss.

"We just want to know what's happened, it's really very strange,' he said.


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