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Harry Potter blamed for Indian urban-owl epidemic

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harry potter with hedwig the owl

People like to blame J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series for a lot of things — waning Christian values, drug use, a resurgence of reading. The wildlife group Traffic now links the popular books to the disappearance of owls in India. Apparently, kids are so smitten with the owl sidekick, Hedwig, that their parents are helping them trap the birds of prey to keep as pets.   

According to Environmental Minister Jairam Ramesh, "Following Harry Potter, there seems to be a strange fascination even among the urban middle classes for presenting their children with owls." The report — fantastically entitled "Imperilled Custodians of the Night," which sounds like a steamy romance novel you might find in a bargain bin — claims that owls are being traded on the black market and killed in magic rituals.   

Oh wait. Apparently, owls are sometimes sacrificed ritualistically during the Hindu festival Diwali, too. They're also regularly trapped and traded for in India for use in street performances, taxidermy and ornamental headgear. Some people also eat them medicinally and use them as decoys when hunting other fowl.  

It sounds like the magically addictive book series is a scapegoat for a much more complicated issue. Can we leave Harry Potter alone now?   But FYI: You really shouldn't keep owls as pets. They're cute and all, but they stay up all night, can claw your eyes out, and might eat your other pets. Stick to Hungover Owls.