FWC identifies three collapsed burrows, one dead owl on Marco

FWC identified three collapsed owl burrows Monday morning and one dead burrowing owl on an empty lot on Marco Island, according to Allison Smith, Audubon of the Western Everglades' Owl Watch project manager.

"The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to a report from an AWE Owl Watch volunteer that multiple burrowing owl burrows on Hyacinth Court in Marco Island had been collapsed," Smith wrote in a news release sent Tuesday.

Smith and an FWC officer met at the site and found the burrows under tire tracks across the property.

"(We) excavated the collapsed burrows to check for owls trapped inside with a burrow camera scope," Smith wrote. "One deceased adult burrowing owl was found near the entrance of one collapsed burrow, entombed in the dirt."

"The burrows on this property were not fenced off, at the request of the landowner."

FWC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Though fencing is not required by law to be erected around burrowing owl burrows, Owl Watch recommends all burrows be fenced to protect them from collapse by vehicles and lawn mowers, according to Smith.

"We provide landowners on Marco Island with fencing and provide regular maintenance of the fenced area, all free of charge in our efforts to help this state threatened species survive on Marco Island alongside humans," Smith wrote.

If a landowner wishes to remove burrowing owl burrows from their property, there is a safe and legal process they must take by applying for an incidental take permit through FWC, according to Smith. 

"The presence of burrowing owls does not prevent the sale or development of a property; building can be delayed if eggs or chicks are found in any burrows, but building can begin at the end of nesting season after the burrows are removed under an incidental take permit," Smith wrote.

Over 350 burrowing owl burrows on Marco Island are regularly monitored by volunteers of the Owl Watch program.

From January:Marco realtor accused of putting mothballs into owl burrow agrees to 6 months’ probation

Omar Rodríguez Ortiz is a community reporter for Naples Daily News and Marco Eagle. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram as @Omar_fromPR, and on Facebook. Support his work by subscribing to Naples Daily News.