Quantcast

Florida Town Will Pay Residents to Help Burrowing Owls Find a Home

Animals
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.


The city council's resolution earmarks $5,000 a year to create a home for the struggling birds. That doesn't mean that residents can just take a shovel and dig out a piece of their yard. The starter burrow has to be created by wildlife crews from the Audubon of the Western Everglades, according to the City Council.

The Audubon of the Western Everglades has to build the burrow since they understand best what appeals to the finicky birds. The burrows cannot be too close to a tree nor to a house, nor can they nick a pipe accidentally, as CNN reported.

Alli Smith, a biologist with Audubon of the Western Everglades, a conservation group said that there are about 500 burrowing owls that live on Marco Island, but they are increasingly rare in the rest of the state, as CNN reported. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission designated the burrowing owl as "state-threatened" in 2017.

"Marco Island is the first in the state to enact a program designed to expand the habitat of a threatened species (while) rewarding citizens who wish to participate voluntarily," said Jared Grifoni, Marco Island's City Council vice-chair, in an email to the Marco Eagle. "We will be an example of positive and cooperative action to the entire state."

Griffoni added that he expects the program to start next week. "The goal was to have everything in place by the start of nesting season," Grifoni wrote to the Marco Eagle. Nesting season for the burrowing owl starts in February and ends in July.

Alli Smith told CNN that the small owls usually live in the grasslands of central Florida that have disappeared thanks to development and commercial farming. Consequently, the owls have moved to more urban spaces, like the empty lots in Marco Island.

Marco Island and Cape Coral, about 45 miles north of Marco Island, host the two largest burrowing owl populations. The burrowing owl is the official bird of Cape Coral.

Last week, activists and residents demonstrated against a new development called Sands Park on Pine Island, off the coast of Cape Coral, which they claim will threaten the burrowing the owls there.

"We're here to save this park from being developed in a way that will affect wildlife. We have four active nests and some other ones we want to save, and they put a jogging path there that will collapse those burrows," said activist Carl Veaux, as the Pine Island Eagle reported. "We've talked to the city council on this and will talk with them again."

"This is a time when starter burrows should be in full force in parks and government entities, in our front yards and in our schools," said Pascha Donaldson, vice president of Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, as the Pine Island Eagle reported. "We shouldn't be collapsing burrows. Our builders do enough of that."

"We need to learn to live in harmony with our wildlife friends, not to destroy them," Donaldson said.

In Marco Island, nearly 95 percent of the burrowing owls live in vacant lots. Owners who want to build on the empty lots are able to remove the burrows after obtaining a permit, ruining some of the few burrows that are left in Florida, as CNN reported.

"We're just trying to give them some extra places to live," said Smith to CNN.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

We need our government to do everything it can to stop PFAS contamination and exposure from wreaking havoc in communities across the country. LuAnn Hun / Unsplash

By Genna Reed

The EPA announced last week that it is issuing a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment to set an enforceable drinking water standard to two of the most common and well-studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS.

This decision is based on three criteria:

  1. PFOA and PFOS have an adverse effect on public health
  2. PFOA and PFOS occur in drinking water often enough and at levels of public health concern;
  3. regulation of PFOA and PFOS is a meaningful opportunity for reducing the health risk to those served by public water systems.
Read More
Charging EVs in Stockholm: But where does a dead battery go? Ranjithsiji / Wikimedia Commons

By Kieran Cooke

Driving an electric-powered vehicle (EV) rather than one reliant on fossil fuels is a key way to tackle climate change and improve air quality — but it does leave the old batteries behind as a nasty residue.

Read More
Sponsored
U.S. Secretary of the Treasure Steven Mnuchin arrives for a welcome dinner at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 22, 2020 during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting. FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP via Getty Images

Finance ministers from the 20 largest economies agreed to add a scant mention of the climate crisis in its final communiqué in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, but they stopped short of calling it a major economic risk, as Reuters reported. It was the first time the G20 has mentioned the climate crisis in its final communiqué since Donald Trump became president in 2017.

Read More
Aerial view of Parque da Cachoeira, which suffered the January 2019 dam collapse, in Brumadinho, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil — one of the country's worst industrial accidents that left 270 people dead. Millions of tons of toxic mining waste engulfed houses, farms and waterways, devastating the mineral-rich region. DOUGLAS MAGNO / AFP / Getty Images

By Christopher Sergeant, Julian D. Olden

Scars from large mining operations are permanently etched across the landscapes of the world. The environmental damage and human health hazards that these activities create may be both severe and irreversible.

Read More
Participants of the climate demonstration Fridays for Future walk through Hamburg, Germany on Feb. 21, 2020. Axel Heimken / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

U.S.-based youth climate activists on Friday drew attention to the climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, where organizers said roughly 60,000 people took part, and hoped that Americans took inspiration from their European counterparts.

Read More