A EUROPEAN eagle owl is on the loose after it is believed to have been freed from its enclosure.

The protected bird is unlikely to survive in the wild and its owner is urging people to report any sightings.

The bird went missing from its home at an animal sanctuary in Borthwood near Alverstone some time overnight.

A friend of the owner posted on Facebook today: "Someone entered a private paddock, through a closed gate, last night (May 26) after 9pm and opened the doors to two enclosures, each containing a European eagle owl.

"The owner discovered this morning that the male has disappeared.

"He is a protected bird, and is not allowed by law to fly free in this country because he is not native to this country, so this is why he lives in an enclosure.

"He cannot survive in the wild. Last year, when his food hatch was opened, he flew from Borthwood to Staplers and was caught after being mobbed by crows."

If anyone has information on his whereabouts, please message Bebby Dennis on Facebook so she can arrange for his capture.