Cornwall

Cornish owl sanctuary Screech appeals for help

African Spotted Eagle Owl at the sanctuary
Image caption The Screech Owl Sanctuary on the Goss Moor has been operating for 20 years

One of Cornwall's best known tourist attractions is appealing for help to continue the work it does with sick and injured birds.

The Screech owl sanctuary on Goss Moor in mid-Cornwall has been operating for more than 20 years.

A decline in visitor numbers has meant it is now struggling to meet veterinary bills.

The sanctuary's owners said it could cost up to £1,000 to nurse an injured owl back to full health.

They are appealing for the public to help raise funds through owl sponsorship and donations.

Staff at the sanctuary said that because of the economic downturn visitor numbers had dropped considerably.

Carolyn Screech said the attraction was "self-financing" and relied "heavily on the public to keep the rehabilitation programme going".

'Dog walkers'

Tom and Carolyn Screech started treating sick owls at their sanctuary in 1990.

Mark Whittaker from the sanctuary said the winter months were particularly hard as more animals were brought in.

"A lot of the young birds can't cope with the weather so we get a lot brought in by dog walkers and people who find them by the roads," he said.

Carolyn Screech said although they would still be taking new admissions for the moment, the sanctuary needed to concentrate on its long-term resident birds.

"Twenty years is a long time but if we do run out of money, we've still got to look after the captive owls. So money has to go there, and the rehabilitation would have to stop," she said.

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