Staining animal rescue's barn owl roadshow to educate people on the dangers of breeding wild birds

A Staining wildlife sanctuary which takes in abused and abandoned birds of prey is taking its small parliament of owls on the road for an educational show.

By Wes Holmes
Friday, 22nd July 2022, 3:45 pm

Hugo’s Small Animal Rescue on Smithy Lane recently received an animal welfare licence from Fylde Council, which will allow them to exhibit the various animals they have taken in – including three barn owls, an African spotted own, a Eurasian eagle owl, a white-faced scops owl, and a western screen owl.

It is hoped that the show will help educate people about the dangers of breeding and buying wild birds.

Santuary founder Bailey Lister said: “By giving people the chance to meet an owl first-hand, instead of watching Harry Potter, we can explain to them the situation they are in because of people wanting them as pets.

Bailey Lister and Georgia Southern from Hugo's Small Animal Sanctuary

"All the birds we have are captive-bred, and some we’re not exhibiting because they’re too traumatised from the abuse they have faced. One barn owl spent 13 years in a dog cage. When she came to us she couldn’t actually fly, we had to do physio with her and teach her how to flap her wings, because she had never needed to before.

"People breed these birds for money, and the birds suffer. They are kept in cark, cramped conditions, and because there’s no licencing laws for breeding owls, people get away with it.

"Once they’ve been bred in captivity, they can never be freed. If you were to release a captive-bred barn owl you’d face a fine and a possible prison sentence because it would affect existing breeding programmes out there for barn owls. If I was to release our African spotted eagle own, she’d be classed as an invasive species and she’d have to be destroyed because she’d pose a risk to British wildlife.”

Hugo’s first owl show will take place at the Fairhaven Dog Festival at Fairhaven Lake on Sunday, July 24. Volunteers will be on hand with a number of owls, educating people about the dangers of keeping the popular animals in their homes.

Baby owl Frankie

The Owl Trust says that owls make ‘terrible’ pets, with larger breeds being capable of biting off a child’s finger.

“Birds of prey do not make good pets. Captive-bred, hand-reared owls can be very sweet and good-natured but it must never be forgotten that they are wild animals. They have never been domesticated,” they said.

Bailey said: “I don’t see it as the animals being used, rather the animals are helping us help people, similar to police dogs. If an animal can cope with the attention and be an ambassador for its species, then it will be.

“We do have very high standards for animal welfare, and if at any point the owl becomes stressed it will be removed from that situation.

“Hopefully by doing this, it will help us engage more with the public, not only with funding but from an animal welfare perspective as well. By doing this, we might see fewer birds of prey coming through our doors.”