News-Press

November 1, 2016

 

Exclusive: FWC investigating burrowing owls killed in Cape Coral

Frank Bumb

http://www.news-press.com/story/news/local/cape-coral/2016/10/31/exclusive-fwc-investigating-burrowing-owls-killed-cape-coral/93063560/

A North Cape Coral resident wants to know what caused the death of several burrowing owls near her home.

Beth Gorddard said she and her family routinely took photos of the owls on the corner lot near NW 8th Terrace and NW 5th Place off of Tropicana Parkway. At least one family of owls was present with about eight to 10 owls visible each day. But after the property hosting the owls was mowed and a for sale sign posted, the owls were gone.

“Since we hadn’t seen the owls in a few days, we checked their holes (Sunday) to see if someone accidentally caved in the entrances and unfortunately, we found the dead owls still in their burrows,” Gorddard said.

Gorddard provided a cellphone image of one of the dead owls. Gorddard’s daughter, Danielle, contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Gorddard said the FWC removed the dead owls, presumably for testing to see what killed them.

Gorddard said the responding agent told her because the nests are connected underground, the likely method used to kill the owls was a poison fog canister.

Lt. Stuart Spoede of the FWC confirmed Monday there is an investigation into the death of the owls but could not provide further details because the investigation is ongoing.

A for-sale sign on the site was recently placed, according to Gorddard. The property is privately owned. It is being listed by Coldwell Banker for the client.

"Our company does a great deal of outreach to support all of the lives in our community, both human and animal," said Jennifer McGuire, a spokesperson for Coldwell.

Burrowing owls stand about 9 inches tall and feed mainly on insects, including grasshoppers, roaches and mole crickets. They also take lizards and rodents. They prefer treeless areas and spend most of their time on or near the ground. They use their burrows year-round.

Brad Cornell, Southwest Florida policy associate for the Audubon of the Western Everglades, said there are very specific regulations for how to deal with burrowing owls. Cornell said that burrowing owls don’t prevent development of someone’s property, but there are state laws and regulations for how to go about dealing with the owls.

“You’re not allowed to disturb them during nesting season, which starts in February and March and runs through the spring and summer,” Cornell said. “You’re certainly not allowed to kill them.”

Cornell said the Florida burrowing owl is not on the federal list of endangered species. But state regulations list it as a species of special concern and could be uplisted to “threatened” status soon.

“You can move the burrows and the owls, but you need to hire a biologist contractor and get a permit from the FWC,” Cornell said.