Call to Action
Stop Evicting burrowing owls from their shelter
Burrowing owls are dependent on burrows for survival at all times of year. Burrowing owls use burrows for nesting, roosting, protection from extreme weather, and to evade predators. Yet, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) routinely allows owls to be evicted from their burrows.
CDFW calls this practice “passive relocation”. When development is planned on land where owls are living, CDFW allows biologists (hired by developers) to install one-way doors in burrow openings. After an owl exits a burrow, it cannot get back in to its shelter. One-way doors are placed on, not only the occupied burrows, but every available burrow on the project site. There are no burrows for the owl to use. “Passive relocation” is eviction. Evicting owls is inhumane.
Evictions continue despite CDFW acknowledgement that owls are likely harmed when they are evicted. CDFW’s 2012 Staff Report on Burrowing Owl Mitigation (Staff Report )contains a section titled “Burrow Exclusion and Closure” describing what happens to evicted owls: “Eviction of burrowing owls is a potentially significant impact under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act)… The long-term demographic consequences of these techniques have not been thoroughly evaluated, and the fate of evicted or excluded burrowing owls has not been systematically studied. Because burrowing owls are dependent on burrows at all times of the year for survival and/or reproduction, evicting them from nesting, roosting, and satellite burrows may lead to indirect impacts or take. Temporary or permanent closure of burrows may result in significant loss of burrows and habitat for reproduction and other life history requirements. Depending on the proximity and availability of alternate habitat, loss of access to burrows will likely result in varying levels of increased stress on burrowing owls and could depress reproduction, increase predation, increase energetic costs, and introduce risks posed by having to find and compete for available burrows.”
What’s more, burrow exclusion and closure violates California Code of Regulations 14 CCR § 251.1 § 251.1.Harassment of Animals. “Except as otherwise authorized in these regulations or in the Fish and Game Code, no person shall harass, herd or drive any game or nongame bird or mammal or furbearing mammal. For the purposes of this section, harass is defined as an intentional act which disrupts an animal's normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, breeding, feeding or sheltering.”
Further, CDFW does not know how often or how many owls are evicted. CDFW admits they are unable to review all CEQA documents. The CEQA biological assessment would identify owls on a development site which are destined to be evicted. CDFW approves evictions without requiring the evicted owls be banded or monitored or that the biologist evicting owls is qualified.
Multiple data sources (including the Institute for Bird Populations’ 1990- 1993 and 2006-2007 state wide censuses) over decades have consistently demonstrated the burrowing owl population continues to decline. It is our opinion that evictions allowed by CDFW have contributed to this decline.
Write (see “sample letter” button), email, or phone:
Charlton Bonham, Director of CDFW
1416 9th Street, 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Contact your state Assembly Member and State Senator
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