When a two-ounce feathered friend goes against a 4-ton grader, the winner is fairly clear.
The odds makers weren’t disappointed at 1068 Cottonwood Drive as the lot was perfectly leveled and concrete pilings drilled into the ground. What became of the owl or owls is unknown, but what is quite clear is that the owl burrow was illegally destroyed as no Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) permit was issued as required by law. Nancy Richie, FWC agent, had begun working with the owner for an FWC permit in mid-January and was available to remove the owls 24 hours prior to construction, but she was never notified.
The illegal destruction of owl burrows is a far too common on Marco Island as builders have little to fear from either the city or FWC. Earlier this year our city passed an ordinance that provided additional monetary penalties for violations of this type. One has to wonder if the new fine schedule is stiff enough.
Brad Cornell of the Audubon of the Western Everglades stated, “penalties should not be the cost of doing business or considered an incidental expense in getting the job done.” Earlier this year the City Council of Cape Coral unanimously voted to protect their burrowing owls with a “fine not to exceed $500 or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceed 60 days or both.” It’s time for Marco Island to consider similar language in our ordinance for repeat offenders.