Recent encounters in Salem, Oregon have led city officials to install hilarious warning signs in city parks.
As of Valentine’s day, four residents have been attacked by an unusually aggressive owl in a park popular with runners. One runner even lost his favorite hat to the agitated owl.
“I turned around and my favorite running hat was gone,” said Brad Hilliard, the fourth victim of the attacks. “I was just dumbfounded after the fact.”
News of the attacks went viral after the Rachel Maddow Show picked up the story. Her staff created a fake “owl attack” warning sign, and joked that the city of Salem was free to use it to warn residents. City officials took them up on her offer.
The owl’s motive for attacking has not been determined. Keith Keever of the Parks Operations Division says the owl is the nonnative barred owl, and several Audubon society members have speculated that more than one owl may be at large.
Keever also speculated that the owls may be especially aggressive if they are defending a nest or mating.
News outlets have previously (and hilariously) documented the four owl attacks. Ron Jaecks, 58, was the owl’s first victim in January. Jaecks was running when he felt something pull his hat off and puncture his head.
He said he thought he was dying: “It was like a huge electric shock ran through my body, but also like I got hit in the head with a two-by-four all at the same time.”
Brad Hilliard says he still hasn’t given up on finding his favorite running hat, even if it means being attacked again.
I’ll keep buzzing by there until it turns up. I can’t imagine a bird or a person wanting a sweat-stained hat I’ve had for five years.