HARRISON, Ark. (AP) – A Home Depot in northern Arkansas has someone new looking out for mice in the garden center. Someone with wings.

A great horned owl flew inside of the Harrison store’s garden center during a January ice storm and built a nest atop a pallet of merchandise. Over time, two baby owls poked their heads out. One fell to its death, but the other survived.

Now, the mother is gone but the surviving youngster has decided to stay, looking down on surprised customers shopping for flowers and paving stones. Since the garden center is open to the sky, the owl leaves, but always comes back, employees said.

“He’s kind of our pet now,” supervisor John Gallagher told the Harrison Daily Times.

Randy Zellers, managing editor Arkansas Wildlife magazine, said owls are raptors, which are protected under strict federal regulations, and the store would have to get special licenses to remove its new tenant.

But Zellers said there’s really no reason for anyone to try that for now.

“If he isn’t bothering anything, it’s perfectly fine,” Zellers said.

Rusty Scarborough, education program coordinator at Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff, said the store would be a good spot for a great horned owl. Garden centers stock bird seed and crop seeds – big draws for rodents, the owl’s main food.

Although the great horned owl is a fierce predator, Scarborough said this owl probably doesn’t pose a threat to people at the store.

“They still have a fear of humans,” he said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.