Police: Man arrested for DUI was on meth, driving with owl inside his car in Payson
PAYSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — If you see a wild animal, leave it alone. That’s what the Payson Police Department is reminding people after a man illegally bought an owl early Thursday morning. Police say officers pulled over Mason Stapley for DUI and, to their surprise, found an owl beside him inside the car. Stapley told officers another driver found the owl along the road and sold it to him for $100 at a gas station.
“The Payson Police Department would also like to take this opportunity to encourage the public not to use methamphetamine or you too may find yourself illegally purchasing a wild owl, for $100, in the middle of the night, from strangers, at a local gas station,” the department said on Facebook.
Stapley was arrested for aggravated DUI, possession of meth and possession of wildlife.
Unfortunately, the poor owl was injured and couldn’t be released back into the wild. “We think she got knocked around or jostled somehow in that tumultuous night she had,” said Liberty Wildlife’s Wildlife Biologist, Laura Hackett. “The officer handled it like a pro, so he has a good story to take home to his family.”
Hackett is now caring for the Western Screech Owl, who they believe is a female. The owl has head trauma but is showing signs of improvement after receiving medication. “We are already starting to see improvements, which is great,” she said.
Hackett says there are two important points to remember about the wild story. “I think this was one of the best PSAs from them [police]. It brought home two different illegal points: no, you can’t own wildlife, and no, don’t do drugs,” she said. “Wildlife is wild, that’s in their name. They are meant to be living out there. They have the wild instincts. That’s their home, that’s where they belong.”
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