Sick Owl Stolen From New Jersey Animal Sanctuary

Officials: 'Simon' The Eastern Screech Owl Must Be Returned; Reward Mulled

MILLINGTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An owl has been stolen from the Raptor Trust and faces certain death if not returned soon.

The Raptor Trust is healer and home to birds of prey. People are normally free to roam the tranquil place, but that wasn’t the case on Friday. For the first time in 43 years it was closed, because someone stole one of the owls, reports CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock.

“It’s kind of sad that we’ve come to this, after all these years of not only allowing people to come here, but inviting them to come,” said Raptor Trust founder and President Dr. Leonard Soucy.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

Well, it was an uninvited guest that showed up here twice. On Tuesday night someone tried to break into the cage of the Northern Sawwhet Owl, as evidenced by the fact that the latch was mangled. The first attempt was unsuccessful.

But on Wednesday night the thief didn’t make the same mistake.

“They broke into the cage, cut the wire and actually stole one of the birds,” Dr. Soucy said. “We felt violated. We still feel that way.”

That bird was “Simon,” a federally protected Eastern Screech Owl and a big part of this family.

“He’s a beautiful bird, bright eyes, wide eyes … just a very special bird to us,” Raptor Trust Education Director Lauren Butcher said.

Simon lived with 3 cage mates, but was the only one taken.

“He was the obvious first pick because he couldn’t see to get away,” Butcher said.

Simon lost his night vision in an accident six years ago. That’s when he came to the Trust. It’s also one of the reasons he can’t leave.

“We’re concerned that the person who took him may be overwhelmed and release him into the wild, which would be a death sentence for this bird,” Butcher said.

“He’s a good guy and better come back in good health or I’m going to be really upset about this,” Dr. Soucy added.

When asked how long the owl potentially has to live, Dr. Soucy said, “It depends on the care … or abuse that it gets from whoever has it.”

At most, Simon will survive a week with out the care he needs, Trust officials said.

“All I want to say is please bring this bird back,” Butcher said.

The Trust is Simon’s home, the only place he can survive. So getting him back here soon is the main goal.

The Raptor Trust is hoping those responsible will bring Simon home safely and is contemplating a $10,000 reward. Officials said if Simon is returned safely, no charges will be pressed and no questions will be asked. If you know anything, please call 908-647-2353.

Do you have something to sat about the story? Sound off in the comments section below!

  • J.

    good things will happen to good people… Simon was returned!

  • Meme Meyagi

    what is done about 7 million mooslime terrorists living in usa?

  • J.

    I have no words to discribe how upset and angry I am about the person who took Simon…. Some “people” will never get it…. And it’s a shame that we have to share this air with them knowing that all they care about is themselfs… I am hoping and praying for Simons safe return and will be sending check to participate in the reward for bringing him back or camera system so it would NEVER happen again….

  • Stephen

    Terrible shame. For over 5 years I was involved with a Raptor Center in NY as a volunteer, an Educator and former Director. I know how important it is to protect the non-releasable birds as well as maintain the public safety at the same time. I also know that giving the public access is vital to funding and support these type of Centers desperately need. The Raptor Trust has a long and very well deserved admirable history of care for the birds of prey in their charge. It sounds like a calculated move on the culprit(s) part who obviously knew enough about their routine to know exactly how to take advantage of them. To fail and return the next night only to succeed tells me they knew enough to risk a lot. I think who every did this has just enough knowledge to be “dangerous” but not enough sense to be legitimate. In other words someone that knows Raptors well enough (hopefully for the sake of the animal), wanted a small one so as not to be overwhelmed or in this case obvious but has no legal/permitted right to possess one. My guess is they have been to that Center more than once and probably made themselves known by appearing to be an “insider” and asking questions they already knew the answer to. Means, motive and opportunity. Whoever did this had all three elements of a criminal mind. The “Raptor” community is very “tight knit” and I’m sure they are all on alert. I hope the odds play into the owls favor. Healthy Raptors beat the odds of survival if they live past their 1st year. Rescued birds that are rehabilitated but non-releasable can live longer in captivity with proper care and serve a purpose by giving the public a chance to be educated by a living specimen. Those that can display and interpret the bird for the public as well as take care of them properly are very dedicated people and neither they nor “Simon” deserve this. Who ever took that bird or knows who took it if they have any decency at all need to get it back safe where it belongs. Shame on you whoever you are!

  • Violetmoon6

    I do hope they find Simon safe and the person (s) return him. I guess that thief didn’t hear about the 2 teens that stole Dakota the Great Horned Owl in Nov from the Wildlife in Need Center in OCONOMOWOC, Wis.
    Or maybe this is a copy cat.. ??

  • Ronnie

    People not only suck they are disgusting, selfish pigs that only think of self and this is EXACTLY why GOD saved more animals and only one man and his family the first time he ended the world.

    • Cliff

      Holy crap! Are you kidding me? There are actually still idiots who believe some guy loaded two of every species on a ship when the world flooded?

      For your information, genius, there are 5,000 species of mammals alone. 15,000 species of birds. 3000 of snakes. Hell, there are 300 species of turtles! Now add to that 100,000 species of mollusks and more than 750,000 species of insects.

      It’s physically impossible, not to mention utterly illogical, to load that many creatures, from all over the world, onto a ship.

      Good grief. Use your brain instead of believe superstitious crap.

      Now, as to the owl theft, that is obviously the work of an admirer who doesn’t realize how much danger he/she has put this bird in. I hope they do the right thing and return him.

  • Dee Madison

    people suck, I pray to St Francis that Simon is returned unharmed.
    This is why I prefer animals over people.

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