Attack owl returns in Oregon, targeting government workers

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Attack owl returns in Oregon, targeting government workers

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2015 file photo, Parks Operations for Salem, Ore., installed this sign at Bush's Pasture Park, warning visitors of the recent owl attacks. At least two attacks have been reported more than a mile north of a park where joggers were attacked last January, said Julie Curtis, spokeswoman for the Department of State Lands. (Danielle Peterson /Statesman-Journal via AP, File)

This Feb. 12, 2015 file photo shows John Kleeman, Parks Operations Supervisor for Salem, Ore., installing a sign at Bush's Pasture Park warning visitors of the recent owl attacks. 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. (Danielle Peterson/Statesman-Journal via AP)

This owl flew into the car of a Covington, Louisiana police officer and began attacking him. The officer was able to stop his car and get out, walking away with minor scratches. 

(Photo via Covington Police Dept.

This image provided by the Montgomery County, Md., Department of Parks shows the warning sign on the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda, Md. warning users about owl attacks. At least three runners on the Capital Crescent Trail have reported being attacked by a large, pesky bird one of them identified as a barred owl. The attacks occurred after nightfall or before dawn in the past two weeks. Officials say the runners suffered only minor scratches when the bird swooped down on their heads from behind. (Montgomery County, Md., Department of Parks via AP)
In this photo taken Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015 an eagle owl sits under the roof of a building in Purmerend, Netherlands. An aggressive eagle owl is swooping out of the sky and sinking its talons into residents of a Dutch town, earning the nickname the "terror owl" and prompting locals to take cover under umbrellas. The owl has become a media sensation after attacking several people in recent weeks in and around Purmerend, 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Amsterdam. (AP Photo/Jacob Jorritsma) 

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - An owl that achieved notoriety last winter for attacking joggers in an Oregon park has returned and is now turning its talons on government workers, state officials said on Wednesday.

The barred owl has clawed at least three people outside the state Capitol in Salem in a series of attacks since late November, city parks department spokeswoman Tibby Larson said.

"It's silent. You're just walking along, minding your own business, and an owl comes silently at you from behind," Larson said.

Although rare, owl attacks are not unheard of across the United States. Several attacks on joggers were reported in a Maryland park in October, and an owl attacked a Louisiana police officer on Christmas Eve, according to media reports.

Aggressive Owl Attacking Joggers in Maryland

The Oregon attacks are taking place near state government offices in Salem, but the owl is probably more interested in impressing potential mates than in making a political statement, Larson said, noting such attacks occur during courtship season.

"If you're in that neighborhood, we're advising you to wear a hat or carry an umbrella," she added.

Salem's aggressive barred owl first struck local residents last January and February in incidents that inspired MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow to unveil an "attack owl" street sign on her program.

Maddow granted the Salem city parks department permission to print the image on actual street signs, which have been posted in areas where the owl has struck, Larson said.

Sales of "attack owl" street signs have raised more than $20,000 for local parks, and local brewery Gilgamesh Brewing paid tribute by naming a pale ale it released this year "Hoot Attack," Larson said. The barred owl is also known as the hoot owl.

"Everybody loves the owl – well, I'm sure those whose heads are clawed up don't, but everybody else," she said.

While the injuries have been minor in this year's attacks, the scratches have the potential to become infected, she said.

Police in Salem are monitoring reports of owl attacks, but "we haven't arrested any owls," said spokesman Lieutenant Dave Okada.

(Editing by Sara Catania and Peter Cooney)

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