Published: 12:14, 23 August 2019
| Updated: 12:15, 23 August 2019
A trigger-happy hunter is believed have shot a wing off a barn owl.
The injured bird, which can no longer fly or hunt for food, was discovered on Sheppey and is now being cared for by Ray Allibone of Swampy’s Wildlife Rescue.
Mr Allibone, who is based in Sheerness, said: “This is an absolute catastrophe.
“The female barn owl was found near Leysdown and looks so perfect with not a feather out of place. But she has lost half her left wing.
“It’s such a clean wound with no blood anywhere on her body or feathers. There is dried blood on the initial injury but otherwise no sign of a struggle.”
Mr Allibone says he thinks the bird was hit by a rifle shot, leaving a clean wound.
“Having looked closely at the injury the wound has been cauterized, most probably by a rifle shot.
“The removal of part of her wing must have been so quick she wouldn’t have known what had happened,” he added. “There is no other explanation.
“If the wing had been torn off by any other means there would have been more bleeding. A rifle can easily slice a wing off.”
The injured bird was found last Tuesday, August 13, the day after the start of the grouse-hunting season, known as the Glorious 12th.
But Mr Allibone said: “It is difficult to mistake a barn owl for a grouse.
He added: “It is not the first barn owl to be shot and it probably won’t be the last. They are an easy target, even at night. Sitting on a post, they stand out. Over the years it seems to be getting more common.”
A young male owl died after being shot in Leysdown in April last year. Mr Allibone is now looking for a long-term home for the latest casualty.
He said: “These birds don’t live long without food, at best up to five days.Judging by this bird’s weight, the injury could not have been more than 24 hours old.
“It seems you can get a licence to buy a gun and then shoot whatever you like in the dead of night.”
For details of the owl, call Mr Allibone on 01795 585405.