An owl in Salem, Oregon is turning into quite the villain in the running world.
At least four runners have been attacked by an owl in the vicinity of Bush’s Pasture Park. Early Monday morning before sunrise, its latest victim, Brad Hilliard, was attacked by the owl and had his black Nike running hat stolen. Since it was dark out, he had no idea what happened.
“I turned around and my favorite running hat was gone,” Hilliard toward the Salem Statesman Journal. “I was just dumbfounded after the fact. I was like ‘My hat is gone and I can’t see anything.'”
Hilliard put two and two together when he saw signs in the area warning runners about the aggressive owl. He said the owl must’ve gotten a claw underneath the velcro strap on the back of his hat and flew away with it. He had only a minor scratch on the back of his neck.
Hilliard is the fourth known attack in the park since Jan. 13. The first victim, a 58-year-old man running about the same time in the early morning, was attacked more than once and had his stocking hat taken off his head. Only after the second attack did he see the owl’s wings in his peripheral vision and realize what was happening.
“I don’t want to stop running there, but I have never been so frightened in my life,” the first victim, Ron Jaecks, told the Statesman Journal. Jaecks also provided the paper with his GPS data showing where he was forced to flee the bird.
The attacker, identified as a barred owl, is still at large.