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Pensioner banned from walking his pet owls

A pensioner from Devon has been banned from taking his pet owls for walks due to concerns over health and safety.

For the past seven years Russell Burt from Plympton in Devon has walked his pet owls around his home town every day, which he believes is great for the birds as they get some fresh air and good for the local community, who refer to Burt as the ” owl man”.

However, he has recently been banned by the local council from walking his owls as they believe that the birds could be a potential health and safety risk. Council officials believe that have said that Mr Burt’s pets could be ”spooked” by traffic and ”run amok” and attack someone. They will allow him to take the birds at schools and care homes but cannot walk them in public because it is not a ”controlled” environment.

Mr Burt, a retired builder, believes the councils decision is ”madness” and has urged local people to create a petition to bring his owls back.

Mr Burt said “ the council think it’s a health and safety issue apparently and I’ve been told I can’t take them out anymore.’It’s madness because the birds absolutely love it and they certainly don’t harm anyone. Dogs are far more dangerous. It’s a ridiculous decision. The council obviously knows nothing at all about birds because they love being outside and meeting people.”

Mr Burt has seven owls in an aviary at his home – Ben, a Bengal eagle owl, Spot, an African spotted eagle owl and Mika , a tawny owl which he rescued after a road accident. He also has an African white faced scoptail called Scoppy and three other barn owls called Misty, Chas and Scruff.

A spokeswoman for Plymouth City Council said ”We spoke to Mr Burt about travelling along busy roads with his pets as, in the wild, owls live a nocturnal lifestyle and we are concerned about welfare issues around exposing it to loud and hectic environments.

She added, ”We are more than happy for him to continue showing the animal in controlled environments such as schools and care homes, but to protect him, his pet and the public we have asked that he finds alternative forms of transportation.”

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