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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Eagle owl's owner fears for pets
An eagle owl
An eagle owl, which has not eaten for three days, has escaped
The owner of a 3ft owl which has escaped from its home in West Lothian has spoken of his fear for the safety of his neighbours' pets.

Chris Imlach, 34, said the large European eagle owl could easily take out a small dog or cat and has caught and killed rabbits and pheasants.

The bird called Fergus has even lifted his four stone (25kg) pet Staffordshire bull terrier off the ground.

The recovery driver has taken a week off work to search for the missing owl.

Distinctive bird

The bird, which has not eaten for three days, escaped from Mr Imlach's garden in Linlithgow, around 1400 BST on Monday.

Mr Imlach, said an eagle owl's defence mechanism was to lift an animal off the ground.

"Our Staffordshire terrier was jumping around Fergus one day after he had got a bit excited and suddenly I saw Fergus rise up and lift him off the ground.

"He had some cuts afterwards because Fergus's talons are very sharp.

"Small dogs and other pets would pose no threat to him so I'm a bit concerned because I don't want my neighbours coming to complain that he has eaten their pet.

"There have been a few sightings of him but they have turned out to be a concrete owl on a roof top and a few buzzards."

It should not be approached by members of the public and people should not attempt to catch it themselves
Police spokesman

Fergus is described as brown with a white chest, is 3ft tall and has a wingspan of 5ft.

The "distinctive" bird of prey is understood to be wearing jesses and a lanyard, to which a leash would be attached.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokeswoman said the bird escaped from Bridgend in Livingston.

"We would appeal to anyone who sees this distinctive bird of prey to contact police straight away.

"It should not be approached by members of the public and people should not attempt to catch it themselves."

Watch local residents describe the search for Fergus

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