EDINBURGH, Scotland, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Scottish wildlife officials are in a flap over giant, cannibalistic owls misguided people have been releasing into the wild, The Scotsman reports.
David Kelly of the Scottish Ornithology Club said people who believe eagle owls once soared over Scotland have been releasing Eurasian eagle owls because they are easy to breed in captivity and cost only $150 each.
"They may have lived here before the ice age more than 15,000 years ago, but the environment was different then," Kelly said.
The owls, which grow to almost three feet tall, can catch and kill a dog or small deer, and alarming to ornithologists, even eat other owls.
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued a reminder anyone caught setting the owls free faces a fine of up to $35,000.
Eurasian eagle owls are native to countries such as Russia, while The Central Asian eagle owl is native to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and India.