Fake Wal-Mart owl fools animal officials in Wis.
By Associated Press, 1/20/03
RACINE, Wis. -- No wonder they call it the wise old owl.
This one outsmarted officials at the Racine zoo and the state Department of Natural Resources.
They didn't realize why the owl in front of Angie Anderson's house wasn't moving and appeared injured: It was a real fake.
A few days after Christmas, a zoo official carrying a large net and a snare knocked on her door.
"And he said, 'I just wanted to let you know I'm going to be out front trying to catch this injured owl,"' Andersen said. "I just broke out laughing. I told him it was a fake owl."
She bought the owl at Wal-Mart two years ago for $14.99.
Since she moved to a busy corner in October, people have stopped to stare, including the zoo official, who thought the owl was real -- and injured.
Anderson pulled it out of the ground to reveal the metal legs that push into the ground. The zoo official laughed and drove away.
A couple days later, a DNR conservation warden stopped by and told Andersen that someone had complained and that he needed to check out the owl.
He didn't think it was real, but he needed to see whether feathers came from a real owl. Possessing owl feathers violates the federal Migratory Bird Act. Owl and wildlife experts determined they were dyed chicken feathers.
He returned the owl to Andersen and suggested she not put it back in the front yard, because bird-lovers could think it's inappropriate.
But she didn't give a hoot about his advice.
"I put it right back out there when I got it back," Andersen said.
She has since put up a sign that reads, "This is not a real owl."