WALES: Buzzard's escaped... so watch your hat; Baseball caps could be a target.
YOUNGSTERS in baseball caps were warned they may be at risk from an escaped bird of prey yesterday.
The red-tailed buzzard, which has a four-foot wingspan, went missing from its owner's home in Prestatyn over the weekend.
Bird experts fear the creature may mistake a child's baseball capped head as a perch used in falconry - and try to land on it.
Such an attack would not be life-threatening but the creature's talons could easily cause a deep gash.
Concerned police last night issued a description of the fugitive and asked the public to be on guard.
A North Wales Police spokesman said: "We are asking members of the public to be on the look-out for a red-tailed buzzard, which has escaped from its holding in Prestatyn.
"The bird is described as being the size of a seagull, with brown plumage and a distinctive red tail and strap belt.
"There are concerns that this buzzard may, under certain circumstances, attack small children wearing baseball caps or small caps."
Buzzards can be found near Prestatyn, on the hillside around the Offa's Dyke Path, but rarely in the town itself.
Alan Davies, centre manager at the RSPB reserve in Conwy, said: "They are not an urban bird at all, they are a bird of the open country.
"The main problem is it would need to find its own food. A buzzard is a predator and needs to be taught to hunt by its parents.
"If it has been reared in captivity, it won't have been taught, so will have to fend for itself now. If it can't hunt for itself, it would last only a few days.
"They have very sharp talons and would be able to draw blood. They are not life-threatening, but would be able to give you quite a nasty scratch."
Potential attack by buzzard is the latest in a string of problems facing baseball capped youths, who are often labelled as yobs and even banned from entering shops because of their headgear.
One young holidaymaker took action to avoid being bombarded by the buzzard yesterday.
Corey Brown, 13, of Congleton, Cheshire, said: "I've just come down with my family to the seaside. I'll probably take my cap off now."
And young Callum Knopik, of Burton on Trent, Derbyshire, said: "I wasn't worried before but I'll be a bit more cautious now.
"I wear my cap to protect me from the sun, but if we've got this bird around, I'll be more careful."
Anybody who has spotted the buzzard is asked to contact North Wales Police on 0845 607 1001 (Welsh language line) or 0845 607 1002 (English line.)
A red-tailed buzzard similar to the one that escaped and, inset, Corey Brown and Callum Knopik with the baseball caps that could attract the curious creature