Raptor-kicking paraglider may face federal prosecution

Posted at 8:39 PM, Apr 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-10 00:33:26-04

SALT LAKE CITY - A video showing a powered paraglider kicking an owl in mid-air has been removed from YouTube.

It says it's been removed due to a copyright claim by Dell Schanze, the former computer store owner who’s been in trouble with the law before.

It’s unclear if Schanze is the pilot. He wouldn't confirm that for FOX 13 but several sources say it is him.

The pilot can be heard saying, "I kicked an owl's butt."

"It’s just gut-wrenching, horrible," said Eric McGill, who trains owls for the company Earth Wings, which displays the birds during special events at Utah schools.

When asked about the pilot in the video, "Whoever it is, I hope they're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said McGill. "The worst part is pursuing with that type of motorized craft for seven minutes, absolutely tormenting."

Owls are protected by a federal treaty and, before the video was removed, both state and federal officials began investigating whether animal harassment laws were broken.

McGill is one of a growing number of people who want to see the pilot prosecuted.

"I would certainly like to see his wings clipped," said David Blizzard.

Blizzard is president of Oregon's Cascade Paragliding Association.

He believes the pilot is Schanze, who was fined $1,000 for paragliding off an Oregon landmark in 2011. FOX 13 repeatedly tried to interview Schanze but he refused and wouldn't confirm if he's the pilot in the video.

Schanze’s flying antics on the Oregon coast have led to numerous complaints.

"(He's) flying low, annoying the locals, harassing wildlife," said Mark Forbes, treasurer with the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.

Representatives from the hang gliding association says Schanze used to be one of its 9,000 members but now, he's one of a handful they won't let back in. That's partly because Oregon state officials shut down powered paragliding on state beaches and many blame Schanze.

"Since they couldn't just outlaw him, we were all punished," said Blizzard.

Now, Utah and federal investigators are reviewing this video to determine if Schanze tormented an owl. Whoever did it could face animal harassment charges.

Related story:
Man kicks owl while paragliding, outrage ensues