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Stolen birds from animal centre found safe after rescue mission

Daily Record logoDaily Record 11/03/2020 Sarah Vesty
a brown and white owl with yellow eyes: Maximus the Eurasian Eagle Owl stolen from Brora. © Blue Highlands Bird of Prey Rescue Centre Maximus the Eurasian Eagle Owl stolen from Brora.

A Scots rescue centre have been reunited with two stolen birds who were found within minutes of each other after vanishing for more than 24 hours.

Maximus the eagle owl and Buster the herring gull were both taken during an early morning raid at the Blue Highlands Bird of Prey Rescue Centre in Brora on Tuesday.

A police probe was launched to try and find those responsible while heartbroken staff at the centre frantically searched for the feathered duo.

A call was received from a member of the public who spotted Maximus on Wednesday morning close to the centre and rescue mission was launched.

After safely capturing Maximius, who has a wing span of 6ft, a second call was received saying that Buster had been spotted at Brora Golf Club.

Both birds are shaken but physically unharmed.

Jane Wilson, assistant director, said: “Early yesterday morning, it was apparent that there had been a break in.

"Locks had been ripped off doors and the enclosures had been interfered with. 

a bird sitting on a table: Buster the gull had his broken wing bandaged to his body when he was stolen from the centre. © Blue Highlands Bird of Prey Rescue Centre Buster the gull had his broken wing bandaged to his body when he was stolen from the centre.

“Buster the injured gull that was in the outdoor was missing and Maximus our male eagle owl was gone although the female was still in the enclosure.

“We were absolutely devastated and you start thinking, have the birds been stolen to order?

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“Why would you steal a gull with a broken wing? What use is he to anybody?

“Maximus is 45cm tall, his feet and talons are the size of my hands. While he’s precious to us, he is potentially dangerous in the wrong hands as well.

“We were torturing ourselves during the search wondering if he was in a bag, a box or somebody’s boot. You just don’t know what people are prepared to do.”

an owl looking at the camera: Maximus the Eurasian Eagle Owl, pictured with his mate, has gone missing from the wildlife centre in Brora. © Blue Highlands Bird of Prey Rescue Centre Maximus the Eurasian Eagle Owl, pictured with his mate, has gone missing from the wildlife centre in Brora.

After painstakingly searching the area throughout the day on Tuesday, no trace of either bird was found leading to a sleepless night for the centre staff.

But their spirits were lifted on Wednesday morning when they received a call reporting a potential sighting of Maximus around a quarter of a mile from the centre.

They took his mate, Victoria, along to the scene and managed to coax him out of the trees and into a crate.

A short time later, they were called to Brora Golf Club and were able to catch Buster, whose wing is currently bandaged to his body.

Jane, 50, added: “In 24 hours we’ve gone from devastation to a bunch of grinning Cheshire cats now because we’ve got both birds back where they’re supposed to be.

a man petting a cat: Lady Hadassah Broscova with the rescued eagle owl © Jane Wilson Lady Hadassah Broscova with the rescued eagle owl

“We’re just so relieved. They’ve both been checked over, it’s been a bit of a traumatic experience for them in particular but physically they’re okay, a bit shocky.

“The fact that they were both located and recovered locally, it would possibly suggest that someone local had taken them.

“We’re just so pleased that they’re back where they belong and cannot thank people enough for all the support we have received over the last day.”

Anyone with information about the break in and theft is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting reference NE/1059/20 or to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A JustGiving page has also been launched to pay for increased security at the centre.

To donate, please click here .

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