Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Sunday, 31 August 2008 12:16 UK

Rare owl chicks taken from centre

Staff at a Cumbria owl centre have been left devastated after the theft of two rare chicks.

The young chaco owls, worth 400 each, were taken in a raid at the Furness Owl Centre in Barrow.

It is the sixth time in three years that the Owl Centre has been the victim of attacks in which birds have either been stolen or killed.

Owner Lynne Jones said additional security was being considered to better protect the centre's 100 birds.

A small amount of cash was also taken in the raid, which happened early on Thursday.

'Shopping list'

Mrs Jones believes the chicks were stolen to order and attempts may be made to get them out of the country.

She said: "One of the birds was actually taken from underneath its mother.

"We can't carry on like this. We are having to spend more and more money on security.

"I think they were part of a shopping list and were stolen to sell on.

"The birds were ringed and we will inform Defra and the International Bird Register in case they to take them out of the country."

The centre has about 100 rare birds from all over the world which are part of a conservation breeding programme.

Cumbria police are investigating.

Chaco owls are nocturnal birds usually found in the forests of Chile and south Argentina.




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