published Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Rare owl stolen from Washington bird sanctuary

  • photo
    A tawny owl named "Sherman" sits on a perch in a bird sanctuary in Selah, Wash. The Yakima County Sheriff's Office says that on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, someone entered a building on the Raptor House property in central Washington and stole the 14-year-old bird.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SELAH, Wash. — Investigators are seeking the public's help in finding out who stole a rare owl from a central Washington bird sanctuary.

The 14-year-old tawny owl was taken Friday from a building on the Raptor House property in the small Yakima Valley city of Selah, the Yakima County sheriff's office said.

Shannon Dalan, who helps run the sanctuary with his wife, Marsha, said it was obvious the owl didn't fly the coop on his own: Someone took off a lock to the building, removed latches and unhooked the leash holding the owl, named Sherman.

The bird is glove-trained and frequently is displayed in classes, the sheriff's office said. Sherman weighs less than a pound and has reddish-brown feathers and pink eyelids.

The tawny owl is native to Europe and Asia, not North America, and Sherman could be worth $3,000 to $4,000 on the black market, Shannon Dalan said Tuesday.

"This bird is rare," he said. "They knew what they were looking for. The person who stole it walked past other, native birds."

The Raptor House is home to about 20 birds, including other owls, hawks, falcons and eagles. Some are being rehabbed for return to the wild, and others that can't be released are used for education.

The tawny owl arrived about five years ago from a sanctuary in St. Louis. Shannon Dalan started calling him Sherman after ball-hawking Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

Sherman the owl has been seen by a lot of people, but Dalan couldn't speculate on who might have taken him.

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