FURIOUS residents have demanded answers after a dog-walker and her pet were attacked by a harris hawk in Broomridge.
Ethne Brown was exercising her 12-year-old toy poodle Buddy at the corner of Abbot Road and Pike Road when the bird struck on Saturday, January 7.
She said the raptor swooped on the terrified dog several times, taking a chunk from the elderly animal’s tongue and severely injuring its eye.
Nearby residents who keep birds eventually restrained the predator with leather straps before it was calmed and placed inside a police van.
The bird’s owner, who is believed to live in Alloa, has apologised, paid vet bills and sent some flowers to Mrs Brown.
Wallace Park resident Mrs Brown, secretary of Broomridge Community Council, said she and Buddy had been left traumatised by the incident.
“I’m sure people must be concerned that these birds can be kept as pets, allowed to go hungry and hunt in areas where there are people.
“The bird was used to being handled and had no fear of me. There are lots of elderly people who might have died if they had to experience something terrible like this.
“And that’s not to mention the possible danger posed to young children and babies, many of whom wear wee fluffy hats and coats which could make them look like a rabbit to a bird of prey.
“I think that local farmers should be informed in the run-up to lambing so their animals can be placed under cover and protected.
“Owning these birds is just as bad as having a dangerous dog, if not worse, as birds come out of the sky silently with vicious talons and beaks. It’s possible they could fly into a garden and attack small children or pets.
“I hope people can be stopped from owning such dangerous birds in areas where there are residents living and walking about.”
Mrs Brown’s husband Ian, a local councillor, contacted Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford to investigate what could be done to avoid a repeat of the incident.
Buddy is said to be recovering well from his injuries but remains shaken.
Local PC Matt Williams described the incident as “extremely distressing”.
“I have contacted the RSPB’s investigations team in Edinburgh and the SSPCA, as well as our own wildlife officer, who have confirmed that no offences took place as a result of this incident.
“But this story serves to illustrate two issues: we are always ready and willing to assist members of our communities when we can and we have contacts with a wide range of other agencies should we need their assistance.
“Harris hawks are quite a large bird of prey – up to 15’’ tall with a large wingspan – but incidents of this type are few and far between.”
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “The harris hawk is not a native species, therefore a licence is not required to own one.
“However, as they can be used to hunt the owner should always have the landowner’s permission to fly the bird over their land.
“This was a very unfortunate but, thankfully, rare incident and the bird owner took responsible action.
“We would expect the owner to take greater care when flying his bird in future and to select an appropriately remote location away from walkers and their pets.”