A section of trails in Soaring Eagle Park remains closed after a number of reports by an aggressive owl, and King5 reports that a woman was attacked on Bridle Trails State Park near Kirkland last weekend. No one has been seriously hurt in the attacks, Katy Terry, Assistant Division Director of the King County Parks and Recreation Division, told Joy Miller in an email yesterday.
Terry went on to say the following in answer to Miller's questions regarding the issues at Soaring Eagle Park:
We contacted staff with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, who has said owls dive-bombing humans is not a common behavior, but they have received owl attack reports before and that it is not unusual for the owls to go after moving targets it might be mistaking for prey.
Signs have been set up at the park's entrances warning users of the aggressive owls as well as along the trail. The trail closure is anticipated to be short term and the owl aggressive behavior will die down as the weather cools. In response to your specific questions:
1. Will the County be relocating the owls? and how soon?
There are no plans to relocate the owl(s). We contacted the Department of Fish and Wildlife after the first report of an aggressive owl. They believe this behavior is temporary and should resolve itself shortly - especially with the onset of colder weather. The Department of Fish and Wildlife have a great website that provides additional information on how to avoid conflict with owls. The information can be found at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/owls.html#conflicts.
2. Is it really closed? As I've seen horse trailers and people using it anyway.
A portion of the trail is closed and signage is posted at all park entrances as well as signage along the trail.
3. When will the area be open again? Is it still usable?
The safety of all park and trail users is very important to us. The trail closure is temporary and we anticipate reopening the trail in the near future. Once the trail reopens, signage will be removed.
4. How do you fend off birds? For other wildlife I use bells.
Again, I would encourage you to visit the web site listed below for ways to prevent owl attacks. Yelling, clapping hands, and banging cans together are all effective when an owl is seen nearby. Bells could work as well. For more information, please visit the web site at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/owls.html#conflicts.
King5 reported that the Department of Fish and Wildlife said it believes the suspect owls are likely young adults staking out new territory, and that they may be attracted to pony tails on women or to headphones. Information from the county biologist suggests that the owls could be protective parents, the city of Sammamish said recently in a news release.