Owl caper: It’s a real hoo-dunit | TheUnion.com

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Owl caper: It’s a real hoo-dunit

A beloved mounting of a great horned owl was stolen from a glass case at the Yuba College Biology Department sometime in the last week.

And while the bird was of great value to the department, it is a great liability to whoever took the stuffed raptor.

"They can't sell it. They can't do anything with it, because it's illegal," Yuba College police officer Donald Fry said. The bird of prey is protected as a valuable resource to the state of California.

The owl mount and an antique microscope were stolen from the glass case left unlocked at the Yuba College Biology Department between Thursday and Monday.

"I'm just sick, because that bird was special," said Kathy Hislop, a biology lab tech.

This was the first bird the department has acquired in years. (Some in their collection date as far back as 1906.)

"These things don't drop out of the sky, so to speak, so you don't get many additions," Hislop said.

The owl came into possession of the biology department after a freak accident on Christmas in Durham caused the owl to be electrocuted and, well, drop out of the sky.

"It landed on a power line. The lights went out and when (Pacific Gas & Electric) came out, there was the poor bird."

The bird was given to Hislop. Jon Verwoest was the taxidermist, and the department was able to accept it because they have a museum license.

The owl is valued at about $1,500 and the microscope $1,000.

Monica Vaughan is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.