On November 6th, Owl Watch volunteer Lin Taylor called Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission law enforcement (FWC) and Marco Island Police Department (MIPD) to report a possible violation with an owl burrow on a Tigertail Court vacant lot.
Lin Taylor was posting a new burrow when she saw a nearby burrow filled with dirt and pea gravel. Officers Georgevich and Wagner responded immediately along with Officer Sellers of the MIPD. Wagner and Georgevich assisted Taylor in removing the pea gravel and dirt to clear the burrow. They successfully found the burrow which appeared to be intact. It now has white sand at the opening and Taylor is hoping the owls will return to clean up and move back.
This burrow has a documented history with Owl Watch Marco. According to Taylor, this burrow was posted on October 15, 2017. Owl Watch data monitoring record reported one burrow and one owl on July 1, 2019, and again reported the same on July 9, 2019—which was the end of the owl monitoring season. Taylor noted that there was no “For Sale Sign” on the property, but it could be up for sale with no signage.
Just a month earlier, on October 6th, video footage was collected of a Marco Island real estate agent and lot owner dumping poisonous mothballs into an owl burrow at 1430 Wayne Court. FWC enforcement were called and this case is under investigation as a possible criminal felony. This case was originally on the Magistrate’s docket on October 29th, but the attorney for the case asked for a continuance.
Earlier this year, a contractor dumped dirt and other materials on top of owl burrows. Audubon of the Western Everglades (AWE) emphasizes that these very few individuals clearly do not understand the laws protecting these species, or that owl presence on any lot does NOT mean that the lot cannot be sold or built on.
Brad Cornell, Policy Director of the AWE, at a recent Owl Watch presentation in Mackle Park on November 8th emphasized that everyone can get a state permit to build over owl nests after breeding season (nesting goes usually from February through July). There is NO reason to risk criminal prosecution and heavy local and state fines for harming a burrowing owl or any threatened species, such as gopher tortoises.
Anyone who has questions about burrowing owls or wants an FWC permit can call FWC at 561-625-5122, or Audubon Western Everglades at 239-643-7822. If you see a wildlife violation, please call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Line: 888-404-3922 and Marco Island Code Enforcement number: 239-389-5050.