Eagle owl on the loose in Dutch town after attacking residence captured and awaits relocation.

A Dutch falconer has finally caught the aggressive Eagle Owl that has terrorised the small Dutch town of Purmerend, where throughout the  last few 12 months the largest of Europe owls has attacked more than 50 members of this small community.

Now that the owl is safe and in captivity, the local town council is looking for a suitable place to release the bird after needing special permission to catch the protected species because its unusual behaviour posed such a danger to residents.

Some of the attacks left victims needing hospital treatment, with two runners needing stitches for head wounds inflicted in a swooping aerial assault last week. One of the runners required six stitches for gashes caused by the bird’s talons. The Eagle Owl with a 4 foot wingspan has been swooping after dark from the sky without warning for months.

“It was like having a brick laced with nails thrown at your head,” one victim, Niels Verkooijen, told the Dutch news programme Hart van Nederland.

An eagle owl sits under the roof of a building in Purmerend


The eagle owl sits under the roof of a building in Purmerend. The bird has also been responsible for at least 15 attacks, under the cover of darkness, on residents and staff at a home for the disabled, according to their spokeswoman Liselotte de Brujin.

Liselotte de Brujin said  “during the day there’s no problem, but at night we now only venture outside armed with umbrellas, helmets and hats, anything really, to protect ourselves. “The problem is that you don’t hear the owl before it strikes. Its claws are razor-sharp.”

But her prayers that the owl – the largest of all owl species – would be caught have now been answered by a Dutch falconer.

The city council announced it had finally been caught on Friday night, although one council member had mixed feelings about the capture. Mario Hegger said: “On the one hand, you would of course rather leave such a magnificent beast alone,”  “But on the other hand, the situation could not continue. We had to do something.”

In an official statement, the council said: “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.”

eagle owl-1

The Eagle Owl is one of the most common species of owl in the world, as well as being the largest, with wingspans of over 4 to 5 feet recorded in some cases. It’s believed to be female – which are larger than male Eurasian eagle-owls.

But it is a protected species and the city had previously released a statement saying it had applied for a special exemption to rules because ‘the safety of our citizens is at risk’ – but these applications ‘can take some time’.

The bird has earned itself a fierce reputation in Purmerend, around 12 miles north of Amsterdam – and it’s not the first time that this species has been responsible for attacks on humans.

In Gloucestershire’s Wotton-under-Edge, an Eagle Owl named Synwell locally, was reported to have attacked a lady, this is not correct. The lady shone a torch in the eagles owl’s eyes when trying to take a photograph of the perched owl startling the bird which flew off, causing the women to fall over thus breaking, I believe, her wrist. The owl has been seen with leg anklets in the Wotton-under-Edge area for the last 3 years at least, causing no harm to anyone.

Gejo Wassink of the Netherlands OWN owl foundation has says: “Either the owl causing the problems at Purmerend was reared in captivity and released into the wild and now associates humans with food — meaning it’s not really ‘attacking’ people.

“Or it may have heightened hormone levels as the breeding season starts, which influences its behaviour and makes it defend its territory.”

2 comments to Eagle owl on the loose in Dutch town after attacking residence captured and awaits relocation.

  • This owl has been free for three years, it has anklets on so obviously has escaped or been released by some un responsible idiot who cares nothing for the welfare of the bird and has done nothing to try and get it back.

    I am sick and fed up by the stories surrounding these owls, yes it is breeding season and if the owl is captive bred it is seeking out human company. To all of those who have harassed this poor owl, I hope you are satisfied, shame on you.

    If this ends in disaster, as it quite likely will, you are all to blame. I pray that if a decision is made to try and capture this owl it is supervised by the law and done by somebody who has the appropriate knowledge to deal with the matter with kindness and compassion and any idiots are kept well away.

  • sally

    I am sad to say that it wilk be a sad day for the UK Eagle Owl. As No relocation for him. Just a cage to look out from. And after so long being free the stress may be too much.
    We are trying so hard to keep him free. Council will decide soon. After meeting .:-(