Saturday, February 4, 2012

Angry birds, stupid people

Remember when Ian was attacked by a great horned owl last July?
You don't? Let me refresh your memory. Right before I went to Rankin Inlet last summer, Ian and I went out to an abandoned mine in Yellowknife to take photos of the old machinery. When we arrived, we saw an owl sitting atop a tall tree. It was hooting and circling around. We thought it was vocally telling the ravens, who were diving bombing her, to go to hell, but it turned out she was angry with us. She showed us that by picking an opportune moment to swoop down and smack Ian in the back of the head. Luckily, it was only a warning shot. Ian had three small cuts behind and in his ear, but no major damage was done. Had the owl wanted to, it could have seriously injured Ian with her talons.
We found out afterward that there was a nest high in the rafters of the old mine structure. When Ian was hit, we were looking up toward the nest, contemplating whether to climb the stairs. I guess the owl didn't want that, so she knocked that idea right out of Ian's head.
Anyway, yesterday, I was reading a paper that covers the Robson Valley (the Valemount, McBride and Dunster area), and on the front page of their website is a picture of a great horned owl. So, of course, I clicked the link and it took me to a story about three people being attacked, one after the other.
Now clearly, the owl had a nest nearby that it felt was threatened by the presence of these people. But instead of moving out of the area and letting it be, someone shot it.
To me, and to Ian who has great respect for owls (especially since his own incident), that seems totally ludicrous. The owl was only protecting its nest. It wouldn't attack for no reason.
In the story, it says that it's rare for owls to attack humans. This is probably true. But there are many known cases where they have attacked people, and in those cases, it's out of a maternal instinct to protect their young. No animal should die for that. No one was seriously hurt in the incident and people just kept coming out into the area where the owl was swooping around. It wasn't the bird's fault. It was the people's stupidity that resulted in the owl's death.

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