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An owl twice attacked a Washington girl. A biologist says it is turning into extra frequent


Barred owls are recognized to be aggressive and territorial. A barred owl just like this one not too long ago attacked a Washington state girl — twice.

Kena Betancur/AFP through Getty Photos


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Kena Betancur/AFP through Getty Photos


Barred owls are recognized to be aggressive and territorial. A barred owl just like this one not too long ago attacked a Washington state girl — twice.

Kena Betancur/AFP through Getty Photos

Kirsten Mathisen was strolling alone within the woods by her Hansville, Wash., dwelling when she was attacked.

There was no warning. Her attacker was quick and silent, however left its mark.

“It felt like getting punched at the back of the top by somebody carrying rings,” Mathisen advised NPR.

Fortunately, she was in a position to get images and video of her attacker: a white barred owl.

The assault was unprompted, Mathisen mentioned. She was simply strolling, as she at all times does. The truth is, she had seen this owl earlier than and there was by no means any downside.

Kirsten Mathisen after one in all her assaults by a barred owl.

Kirsten Mathisen


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Kirsten Mathisen

When she bought dwelling, her boyfriend helped disinfect her scalp — now bloodied and minimize — and he or she advised him the unbelievable story. In a while, on the urging of her mates, she went to the physician, who really helpful she get a tetanus shot to keep away from any additional points from the owl’s bacteria-carrying claws.

Mathisen wasn’t going to be saved captive in her home, so she did her greatest to keep away from the owl’s territory.

“I simply was like, ‘OK, I simply will not stroll that manner for just a few days.’ However then, precisely every week later, on the following Saturday, I used to be on my driveway a lot nearer to the home. And similar factor.”

This barred owl attacked Kirsten Mathisen twice. “I do not need the owl to be put down or one thing. It’s extremely lovely,” she says. Biologist Jonathan C. Slaght says owl-human confrontations are extra frequent now due to the shrinking availability of dense forests that permit the owls to be extra secluded.

Kirsten Mathisen


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Kirsten Mathisen

Yup, the owl struck once more. This time it left behind 5 or 6 deeper cuts and Mathisen far bloodier.

She thought, “What’s going on?”

She turned to Reddit for solutions when native wildlife authorities have been sluggish to reply. Some folks mentioned she was cursed. Others joked she was lacking her Hogwarts acceptance letter.

Much more folks shared along with her a preferred idea in regards to the dying of Kathleen Peterson, whose husband was convicted of killing her. The documentary The Staircase coated the case. Those that do not consider Michael Peterson killed his spouse counsel that she was mortally wounded in an aggressive owl assault.

Mathisen additionally discovered a number of different tales about folks within the Washington state space who had been attacked by different aggressive barred owls. A runner in West Seattle posted her very related story on Reddit. She discovered a singular manner to proceed her runs with out being attacked: She dons an owl masks on the again of her head. The metropolis of SeaTac even put up a warning sign up an area park to warn guests of its owl downside.

The scalp accidents that Kirsten Mathisen acquired from an aggressive barred owl.

Kirsten Mathisen


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Kirsten Mathisen

Barred owls are “aggressive owls they usually’re extremely territorial,” Jonathan C. Slaght, a wildlife biologist mentioned. He examined a photograph that Mathisen took and confirmed the animal to be a barred owl.

They historically nest within the cavities of timber. Sadly, these owl-human confrontations are extra frequent now due to the shrinking availability of dense forests that permit the owls to be extra secluded, he mentioned.

“The extra you cut back the locations the place an owl can nest, the extra probably it will be nesting someplace in shut proximity to people,” Slaght mentioned. “In the event that they’re form of amped up and a fox walks by, a deer walks by, a human walks by, no matter, they will pop down and attempt to chase it off.”

Mathisen has altered her strolling path altogether to keep away from the place the owl lives. She has additionally taken to carrying a hat or carrying an umbrella to guard in opposition to additional whacks on the top, however she’s hoping she will not have to do that ceaselessly.

“I do not need the owl to be put down or one thing. It’s extremely lovely. It is only a fairly bitch,” she mentioned.

Slaght had unhealthy information for her: “I believe she’s doomed,” he mentioned.

Kirsten Mathisen.

Kirsten Mathisen


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Kirsten Mathisen

The actions of the owl counsel it is nesting or pre-breeding, he mentioned.

The excellent news is that that is seasonal, so the owl could ultimately transfer on or stop being so territorial.

“It is not like ceaselessly. It will type of work its manner out,” he mentioned.

Within the meantime, he advised Mathisen put on a hat, proceed utilizing the umbrella or simply admit defeat and discover some other place to stroll.

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