Winged rescue! More than 30 owls saved from cruel conditions in Cumbria

A man from Barow-in-Furness has been convicted of Animal Welfare offences after keeping 31 owls in cruel conditions.

Paul Allen Rose, 71, of Foxfield Road, Walney, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria was disqualified from keeping all birds for five years after pleading guilty to three Animal Welfare Act 2006 offences.

He received a 20-week suspended prison sentence at Preston Crown Court on 17 May.

The court heard that Rose kept a total of 31 owls, ranging from tawny, snowy and eagle to Indian scops, burrowing and Australian boobooks. Five of the birds were kept at his residence at Foxfield Road and 26 at a lock-up in Brady's Yard, also in Barrow-in-Furness.

In most cases, the birds were being kept in cramped unsuitable conditions - including dog crates not much wider than their wing-span.

RSPCA Inspector Amy McIntosh said, "When I attended Foxfield Road to assist police with a warrant, I found two tawny owls stacked in dog cages on top of each other. Both of them were showing neurological conditions. One was rolling around in his cage unable to stand properly. Mr Rose told me the owls had been given to him by vets and that they were wild owls. He said they had been in this condition for a number of months."

Outside at Foxfield Road, there were more owls, including one with a broken wing. Rose signed euthanasia consent forms for two of the Foxfield Road owls.

On the same day, Inspector McIntosh moved on to Rose's lock-up premises at Brady's Yard, where police had to force entry. The RSPCA and vet surgeon Elliott Simpson examined each of the 26 birds kept there.

Dr Simpson said that his overall impression of the lock-up premises at Brady's Yard was that it was very dark and the housing of all the birds was "woefully inadequate". There were no windows, and the lighting was all switched off. It was dusty, incredibly cramped with numerous owls housed both together and in close proximity to others.

Later that day, when Dr Simpson visited Rose's residence at Foxfield Road to examine a further five birds, he found more owls showing injury, illness and housed unsuitably.