Thief steals rare owl from Yakima County bird sanctuary

Thief steals rare owl from Yakima County bird sanctuary »Play Video
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- A Yakima County bird sanctuary is reeling after a thief made off with a rare owl. The thief came onto the property and took the bird. Deputies are trying to track the owl and the crook. KIMA spoke with the sanctuary's owner.

His name is Sherman. He lived at the Raptor House Rehabilitation Center for Birds of Prey. That is until a thief broke into his enclosure, unhooked his leashes and took him.

"You see him everyday," said sanctuary owner, Shannon Dalan. "And now, he's gone."

The Eurasian tawny owl has feathers like tree bark and weighs just under a pound. Shannon runs the Raptor House with his wife Marsha. They nurse injured, orphaned and sick birds back to health, then release them back into the wild.

Sherman came to Raptor House in good health from a sanctuary in St. Louis. The Dalans take him to schools and shows to teach people about birds. They worry what might happen to Sherman if he's set free.

"He's spent fourteen years in captivity and he doesn't know how to hunt. He won't survive in this kind of weather."

Birds like Sherman can fetch up to $3,000 to $4,000 on the black market. But, Shannon doesn't believe Sherman was abducted simply for money; that there was something else going on here. Namely, revenge.

"There's been instances where we've come across people doing illegal activities and we reported it," he said.

Shannon won't say who might have stolen Sherman, but says whoever did it was definitely after the owl. The thief walked past three native birds in the sanctuary before getting to Sherman.

Besides the sheriff's office, the Dalans also reached out to state and federal wildlife authorities.

"He's a bird that we're going to miss if we don't get him back."

Holding out hope that Sherman will come home.