HomeOutdoorsNewsFurious Owl Attacks Skiers, Forces Multiple Trail Closures

Furious Owl Attacks Skiers, Forces Multiple Trail Closures

by Caitlin Berard
Great Horned Owl Gliding Over Snow
(Photo by ca2hill via Getty Images)

Cross-country skiers in the Overlander Ski Club have been receiving a little extra adrenaline than they bargained for as of late, and not from the rush of gliding through a winter wonderland. The club closed four ski trails last week thanks to continued attacks from a “very aggressive” great horned owl stalking the slopes.

According to Chelsea Francis, the general manager at the Overlander Ski Club in Kamloops, skiers began noticing a great horned owl flying around the area on Wednesday, January 11. That night, it swooped down on at least five separate occasions, scratching five solo skiers and frightening several others.

With their skiers left bloodied by unprovoked bird attacks, the club closed four of their nighttime trails. These include Ponderosa, Hoss, Little Joe, and Sitting Bull. All four runs are part of the Stake Lake ski trail network, the area believed to be the owl’s home.

“Owls are, of course, nocturnal and much less likely to be active during the daylight hours, but still be aware,” the Overlander Ski Club wrote in a subsequent Facebook post. “We will be speaking to the [Conservation Officers] this morning and putting together a plan for what to do about him, but in the meantime use extreme caution, especially at night.”

“[The owl] is likely defending a nest,” the club added. “It is best if you avoid these trails at night for the next week and ski in groups of people instead of alone.”

Angry Owl Sends Skier to the Emergency Room

On Sunday (January 15), skiers spotted the angry owl once again. This time, however, it didn’t attack anyone on the trails.

“It’s a very unusual incident, so it’s kind of hard to set expectations for something that’s so uncommon,” Francis explained to Daily Hive. “The Conservation Officers and biologists are in agreement that it’s likely that as long as he’s given his space, he will move on soon.”

“He’s definitely still in the area. We’re hoping he moves on,” she continued. “But if he doesn’t, we’ll just have to update our plans with the best information we can get.”

Joel Wood, a night skier at Overlander, found himself in the emergency room after his run-in with the enraged owl. Though his injuries were minor, he still required a tetanus shot, as the owl’s talons punctured his skin.

“I was tucking down a small hill, and the owl first took a pass at me. It hit my poles that were sticking out behind me. About 100 meters later, it took another pass at me and hit me in the head,” Wood explained to CBC. The second wipe left him with a few minor scratches on his ear. “It really spooked me out, getting hit in the head like that,” he said.

Thankfully, the skier didn’t suffer any lasting effects of the owl attack and said he plans to continue night skiing. However, he has no plans to return to the Stake Lake network anytime soon. “I don’t really want to get attacked again.”