Great Horned Owl attacks heli-skiers

 

The above photo of the attacking Great Horned Owl was taken shortly after the attack. Photo submitted.

Last week, a staff member at Crescent Spur Helicopter Holidays Ltd. lodge went outside and was knocked down and injured by an adult Great Horned Owl. The owl scratched the staff member’s eye, forehead and face, requiring medical attention. At first thinking that the injuries had been caused by ice chunks falling from the roof or possibly icicles, a guest ventured out to check the scene, and was then attacked by the bird. They were knocked down but only received a small injury to the top of his scalp. This time however there were several witnesses and thus everyone knew what they were dealing with.

The first aid attendant retrieved some larger bandages from an adjacent building and made a mad dash across the outdoor area swinging a ski pole above his head in an attempt to fend off the attacker. He ended up having his toque taken from his head but did not receive further injury.

These three incidents which occurred over a half hour period are considered highly unusual by Conservation Officer Todd Hunter as owls are protective of their territory but will not usually attack humans.

Discussions with Lower Mainland Ornithologist Kevin Klassen and Edmonton based Duane Riehl also verified the unusual nature of these attacks.
As a consequence of the attacks and to ensure protection for their guests, staff from the resort shot and killed the animal.

Conservation Officer Hunter has verified that there was no rabies concerns as a result.