SALEM, Ore. – It appears the angry owl of Oregon has attacked another jogger.
Brad Hilliard says he was jogging early Monday near Bush’s Pasture Park in the state’s capital of Salem when he felt a scratch on the back of his neck and something swooped off with his favorite running cap.
It’s the fourth likely owl attack in or around the park since last month, the Statesman Journal reported. One jogger said the owl whacked him so hard he thought he was having a stroke.
When Hilliard saw one of the signs the city posted warning of aggressive owls, he realized what had happened.
“It was almost like you touched the tip of the knife but you pulled away before it does any real damage,” he said.
The bird has been identified as a barred owl, a species that has gained notoriety along the West Coast as a 20th century invader from the Great Plains that’s crowding out the smaller, endangered spotted owl.
The federal government is killing thousands of barred owls in an experiment to see if that will help save the spotted owl from extinction.
A study last year of hunting in Western forests showed that because barred owls aggressively defend their territory, they are easy prey for humans equipped with owl calls and shotguns.
Local birders have speculated about the Salem owl’s origin, parks Superintendent Keith Keever said. The animal is likely one of a pair establishing a nest in a new area, he said.
Hilliard said he’s not giving up on the hat and will go back to the park to search for it.
“I'll keep buzzing by there until it turns up,” he said. “I can’t imagine a bird or a person wanting a sweat-stained hat I’ve had for five years.”