On the morning of February 10th, 2020, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded to a report from an AWE Owl Watch volunteer that multiple burrowing owl burrows on Hyacinth Ct in Marco Island had been collapsed. AWE staff met an FWC Officer at the site and identified three burrows that had been collapsed under tire tracks across the property. Staff and the Officer excavated the collapsed burrows to check for owls trapped inside with a burrow camera scope. 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. This incident is currently under investigation by FWC and the Marco Island Police Department.
Though fencing is not required by law to be erected around burrowing owl burrows, we highly recommend all burrows be fenced to protect them from collapse by vehicles and lawn mowers. 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.
Should a landowner wish 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. 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.
All 350+ burrowing owl burrows on Marco Island are regularly monitored by volunteers of the Owl Watch program, as part of Audubon Western Everglades’ commitment to protecting Southwest Florida’s natural resources and wildlife through advocacy and education.