Sighs of relief - and sadness - have greeted the news that Ilkley Moor's Eagle Owl has been captured.

The massive bird, believed to have been nesting on the Moor for the last two years, made the headlines last week when it appeared to attack two sets of walkers.

Ilkley couple Andrew Shaw and Lucinda Warnes were dive-bombed by the escaped owl twice near the Cow and Calf Hotel.

Keighley fire-fighter Stuart Minnikin, meanwhile, had to fend the bird off his terrified six-year-old daughter, Holly.

While no-one was injured, Bradford Council's Countryside Service deemed the incidents serious enough to step up its ongoing mission to capture the creature.

The bird was finally lured into a trap cage in the Rocky Valley part of the Moor last Thursday night.

Countryside Service team leader Danny Jackson said: "The bird is not native to Britain and its presence in the area was causing concern.

"It posed a threat to other bird populations and, just as worrying, carried the threat of attack to walkers on the moor.

"It is possible the Eagle Owl had expected these people to feed it, as it had come from captivity, but the presence of a bird with a height of around 25 inches and wingspan of 1.5 metres must have been very distressing."

Countryside ranger in charge of Ilkley Moor, Richard Perham, added: "It was the first time we had set a box trap for it so we were quite lucky, although we've been feeding it for a while to get it used to taking bait."

The male bird, believed to be at least six years old, is now being cared for by licensed bird keeper Geoffrey Surtees, in Shipley.

Mr Surtees says the owl, which is thought to have escaped from a private collection and still has its original leather leg straps, is in "perfect" condition.

"He's in beautiful shape," he said, "and has been living well off of grouse, rabbits and small, ground-nesting birds.

"He weighed in at 4lbs 12 ounces, which is a good weight, and he is very tame. I don't think he would attack anybody - he was probably just coming down out of curiosity or for food."

The bird's details are now being checked against a register in a bid to trace its owner, but with no leg-ring attached Mr Surtees admits that could prove impossible.

"We'll find it a good home, though," he said.

Despite his recent close encounter with the feathered attacker, website company project manager Mr Shaw admitted to having mixed feelings about its capture.

"On the one hand it's a shame because it's just an interesting thing to have in the area," he said, "and it was obviously surviving quite well in the wild.

"But if it's attacking people, and especially little children, then it is a bit of a worry and I suppose it had to go."

Frances Stockhill and her husband Graham, of Sefton Drive, Ilkley, were two of the last people to view the bird in the wild.

Mrs Stockhill said: "It was around 7.20pm last Monday and my husband had just heard a very odd, loud hooting noise and gone out to investigate.

"I found it perching on our balcony, which is the same height as the trees, and I watched it through the window, just feet away from my face.

" It was a marvellous sight, very big with large green, beady eyes.

"I'm quite upset it has been caught, poor creature - I know it shouldn't attack people but I think it should be out and about and have its freedom.

"We shall miss hearing it in the woods behind the house."