'Owlcapone' continues attacks on humans
SALEM — The year is ending the way it began in Salem, with an aggressive owl going after people.
At least two attacks have been reported more than a mile north of a park where joggers were attacked in January, said Julie Curtis, spokeswoman for the Department of State Lands.
Dwight French said he was jogging from his office to a parking garage Monday when he felt a bump on the back of his head. He turned around and saw an owl fly into the trees and stare at him. As he crossed a street, the owl hit him again and then a third time.
"At the moment it was just really bizarre and kind of scary for a minute," he told the Statesman Journal.
French sustained several little cuts. He said it looks like he "got a really violent haircut."
The January attacks on several joggers got national attention, most of it humorous.
Inspired by a segment from MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, Oregon's capital city posted "angry owl" warning signs in the park where the owl was likely defending its nest against perceived threats. The Statesman Journal had an online naming contest, with "Owlcapone" getting the most votes. And, of course, there's an Owl Attacks Facebook page.
David Craig, a biology professor and animal behavior specialist at Willamette University, said there's no way of knowing if the owl that attacked French is the notorious Owlcapone establishing a new home or if it's another barred owl.
He said this is the time of year when owls and eagles are courting and establishing their territory, which makes them aggressive. They lay eggs as early as February.
If an owl scratches you and it breaks the skin, Craig recommends monitoring the wound like you would a cat scratch.