COUNCILLORS in Wotton-under-Edge have rejected an offer to remove the town’s resident eagle owl.
The International Centre for Birds of Prey wrote to the town council earlier this year offering, if it wanted, its support in capturing the bird.
Affectionately known as Mr Wise, the Eurasian eagle owl – the world’s largest eagle species and one which is not native to the UK – has been living in and around the town for several years.
In 2015 it shot into national attention after national media reported on it attacking residents.
However Mr Wise has become a popular neighbour for many in the town who want it left alone.
The Newent-based bird centre had offered its help in removing the eagle owl if Wotton-under-Edge Town Council wished after receiving a number of calls over the past year but stressed that it would not want to keep it.
Centre director Jemima Parry-Jones MBE said that they would not remove Mr Wise without a mandate from the town to do so.
“We have had many phone calls over the year about this owl,” she said. “I should stress that we have no desire to own him.
“We have always said that if Wotton-under Edge wants the owl caught then we will help, but that we need a mandate to do it as we do not want to then be vilified on the internet for catching him – which is why we contacted the Parish Council for them to make the decision.
“Generally people are not at that much risk, he will have very sharp talons and could scratch people by accident, but all he really wants to do is bring them food and let them know what a great husband he would be.
“They are however the largest of the owls in the world and he is not an inconsiderable size, so if people are frightened of him then really they need to keep away until after the breeding season when he will not come into the town.”
If caught, the eagle owl would not legally be allowed to be released as a non-indigenous species and would have to remain in captivity.
Responding to the centre’s offer, the town council politely refused the invitation and said that it wished for Mr Wise to be left alone.