Tsawwassen residents are being warned to watch out for an aggressive owl after three attacks reportedly took place between Feb. 8 and 9.
The first incident unfolded on Feb. 8, when a teen boy was riding his bike through the parking lot at the South Delta Rec Centre, Delta Police said in a news release.
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A large owl apparently grabbed the teen’s helmet as though he was trying to take it, his mother told police.
The next incidents happened when a female jogger was apparently attacked in the 1700-block of 56A Street at about 6 a.m. on Feb. 9.
Police learned of that incident after a man heard screams and went outdoors to find out what happened.
That’s when an “angry owl” dive-bombed the man twice, police said.
Officers couldn’t find the jogger, but a witness reporting having seen the woman apparently attacked by the owl.
“Our officers reached out to the BC Conservation [Officer Service], and apparently this is not an uncommon occurrence,” Delta Police public affairs coordinator Cris Leykauf said in a statement.
“Joggers and cyclists are recommended to pick a different route for the time being.
“And it seems they should avoid wearing toques or flashy headwear if travelling through that area.”
Police have not learned of any injuries to any owl attack victims, the release added.
The Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society say the attacks are a case of mistaken identity.
Spokesperson Rob Hope said they usually get a few calls around this time of year because birds are setting up breeding areas.
“It’s more of a swoop. Most of the time our calls are people with ponytails or black fleece vests. And what that resembles to the owl sitting in the tree, is a squirrel. A black or grey squirrel. Unfortunately they see either the pony tail bouncing or the black fleece moving, but they don’t see the body below it.”
“If they’re defending their area, it’s just sort of ‘I’m here, this is my area.’ If they do go after ponytails or black fleece vests, they usually do make contact. But shortly thereafter they realize ‘okay, I can’t carry this thing and I can’t move this thing’ so they let go and basically fly off.”
Hope said people can expect that kind of behaviour to last for a few months.
He recommends people wear something bright to differentiate themselves from the environment.
With a file from Michelle Morton