Mama owl threatens dogs in Berkeley

Dog walkers in Claremont Canyon Regional Park are on alert for a bizarre threat to their animals as they stroll through the Berkeley Hills.

A protective mother owl has swooped down on several dogs in the area prompting park officials to warn visitors. The park has put up signs warning owners that dogs be leashed for their own safety while walking near the nest.

This great horned owl has taken up nest in a eucalyptus tree directly above a popular hiking trail in the park, giving park users a unique and convenient view of the species.

Park officials say the owl is guarding her nest and precious eggs inside. KTVU captured a video of the owl Monday with its horns sticking straight up, a sign of agitation.

Female great horned owls can grow to nearly 4 pounds and are capable of carrying prey two to three times their own body weight. However, Doug Bell of the East Bay Regional Park District told KTVU there is little likelihood that the mother owl would pick up a small dog, though her claws could still cause serious damage.

It will take several months for the owlets to hatch and leave the nest. Until that time, mama owl will likely view all trail users as potential threats, and so the signs will stay up.