LONDON, U K (News & Star) - A wildlife rescue centre near Carlisle has carried out its biggest bird rescue operation, taking in 35 owls from a Cumbrian aviary.
Knoxood Wildlife Rescue Centre near Wigton was alerted to the plight of owls at the Furness Owl Centre in Barrow after getting a call from a concerned member of the public.
They arrived at the site to find RSPCA officials were already there.
Emma Scott, who runs Knoxwood with her father George and a small army of volunteers, said she was appalled by the condition of some of the owls.
Some were dead and several others were in a poor physical condition.
Since collecting the birds – which include endangered barn owls, two Argentinean chako owls, and European eagle owls – Emma and staff at Knoxwood have nursed the most poorly back to health.
She said: “When we arrived, the RSPCA were already there looking for evidence of what had happened.
“I personally saw six dead owls but we were eventually allowed to collect all the owls that were alive. Some had been dead for quite a while, and others died more recently.
“The living owls were extremely hungry and a lot of them had infected feet.
“There were very few British owls – they were the sort of owls that collectors would buy.
“They have all now recovered but they were all very distressed. Several of the birds had to be in our wildlife hospital at Knoxwood for three weeks. Some were looked at by a specialist avian vet from Cockermouth.”
The operation to rescue the owls meant Knoxwood staff had to install emergency aviaries to accommodate the new arrivals, said Emma, who admitted to being shocked by the state of the birds.
Feeding the owls will add around £5,000 to the centre’s annual animal feed bill.
A spokeswoman for the RSPCA confirmed today that the charity is now investigating events at the Furness Owl Centre in Barrow.
The owner of the Furness Owl Centre, Lynne Jones, said nobody willfully hurt or neglected the owls.
“As far as I am aware, the birds were okay,” she said.
“They weren’t ill or starving.” She said she asked the RSPCA to rehome the birds.
Last year, Knoxwood took in more than 20 birds from an another aviary in Lancashire after the owners ran into financial difficulty.
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Updated 2092 days ago Article ID# 996544