Anyone give a hoot?
A race against time began today as an appeal was launched to save Britain`s largest collection of rare and endangered owls. The Two Hoots Appeal is aimed at saving 241 birds - most of them owls - at the New Forest Owl Sanctuary near Ringwood, Hampshire. The appeal organiser, Pam Broughton, who runs the North Wales Bird Trust in Llandudno, has become a trustee of the beleaguered charity that supports the sanctuary in order to spearhead the rescue campaign. She believes that this priceless collection could be broken up or even destroyed within days unless the charity gets immediate public support.
Pam said; The animals are trapped in the middle of a legal dispute. There is a real danger that the birds might have to be sold to inappropriate buyers unless the public supports the charity immediately. The collection of birds includes five very rare Spectacle Owls, one Ashy-Faced Barn Owl, recognised as one of the rarest and most endangered owls in the world, as well as three red kites. The sanctuary collection also includes two Snowy Owls.
The sanctuary, which also houses a number of other types of birds of prey, was the subject of an undercover investigation expos? by the BBC TV programme, Inside Out, in June. In July, authorities including the Police and the RSPCA visited the sanctuary and an arrest was made. Paperwork relating to the running of the sanctuary is with Hampshire Police and a man has been released on bail pending further inquiries. A Hampshire Police spokesperson said: A man has been interviewed about allegations regarding the New Forest Bird Sanctuary and has been released on bail until October while we make further inquiries.
We have been deliberately vague about the problems at the sanctuary due to the fact that a man has been bailed by police and charges are likely to be made. However, the contents of the original BBC expos? are available on the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/south/series3/animal_sanctuary_exposed.shtml
Pam is so concerned over the
deteriorating situation at the sanctuary she has now become a trustee of the charity - a limited company - that supports it. Today,
she officially launched the Two Hoots Appeal to raise the money needed to move the birds to safe locations and pay off the
charity`s debts to ensure that this wonderful collection is not forced to be sold. The appeal is posing the question to the public:
Can you give Two Hoots about one of Britain`s rarest collections of owls? Jemima Parry-Jones MBE, owner and Director of the
National Birds of Prey Centre in Gloucestershire, has launched the appeal with a donation of ?300. Pam said: There are just two
other trustees now remaining, all the others have resigned. The two who have remained are striving to ensure the best outcome for the
birds [Mr Frank Keens, one of the remaining Trustees of the New Forest Owl Sanctuary is President of the International Owl Society.].
Ideally, I want to conserve the birds by moving them to the most suitable locations, Concern is mounting for the birds. We have heard reports that some birds have already lost their lives since the closure of the sanctuary and that some of the rarest in the collection could go out of the country if we don`t rescue them soon.
Now the charity has been told it will have to pay ?1,200 a day in rent to keep the birds at the sanctuary unless the collection is moved immediately or sold to the apparent new leaseholder for ?10,000 (these details are documented in official letters) - this leaseholder has banned the trustees, who are concerned for the safety and well-being of their birds, from entering the sanctuary, but value of this collection of birds is incalculable. They need to be moved to suitable locations in Britain where they will be looked after properly and can become incorporated into recognised breeding programmes.
It is imperative that we save this collection and that the birds are placed in the most appropriate places. There are a number of excellent sanctuaries in Britain that could look after these extremely rare and endangered birds and we are in touch with them.
Pam, a member of the Owl Taxonomy Advisory Group, has looked after owls for ten years. Her own bird sanctuary is the North Wales Bird Trust, which she and her retired husband, Bill, have run for three years. It is not a tourist attraction in itself, although it is sited at the popular Bodafon Farm Park, Llandudno. The Trust`s main function is the preservation of birds of prey and their environment through education, research and breeding said Pam. The Charity Commission has placed a restrictive order on the birds to help ensure their safety. As soon as we are ready with a plan we can go in with the backing of the Police, the RSPCA and Defra to remove these birds to safe locations. As well as much needed funds the charity is also urgently appealing for professional assistance, both legal and financial.
Anyone who gives Two
Hoots about the plight of the owls is asked to contact: TWO HOOTS save the owls APPEAL, PO Box 93, Llandudno, Wales UK., LL30
Donations can be made direct to their account: HSBC, Account name - Two Hoots Owls Appeal, Sort Code 40 - 30 ? 07, Account Number ? 61551361 See their site at: http://www.2-hoots.com or email: Birdangle@aol.com
Created: 8th Sep 2003