A bird nicknamed the “terror owl” was caught Friday after it attacked over 50 people in a Dutch town. The European eagle owl had been attacking residents of Purmurend, about 12 miles north of Amsterdam, for the past year, leaving its victims bloody and bruised.
“The animal was trapped by a falconer today,” the Purmerend city council said, Agence-France Presse (AFP) reported. “It’s in good health and is currently being kept in a temporary facility awaiting a transfer once a proper permanent home has been found,” the council added.
The large, predatory owl attacked citizens over last year, leading the city to advise anyone walking after dark to carry umbrellas to protect themselves from the nocturnal attacks. “The attacks were getting heavier,” the city council said of the owl’s reign, adding: “Many people were afraid to go out of their homes.”
In one of the attacks, two members of a local athletic club were attacked in February, with one runner requiring stitches for six head wounds inflicted by the aerial assailant’s talons.
Owl experts told AFP that the bird’s behavior was unusual, and suspected it may have been released from captivity or had heightened hormone levels because of the start of the breeding season.
The city had to get special permission to trap the creature as the eagle owl is a protected species.
City council member Mario Hegger told AFP he had mixed feelings about the owl’s capture. “On the one hand, you would of course rather leave such a magnificent beast alone,” he said. “But on the other hand, the situation could not continue. We had to do something.”