This beautiful pair of small owls has staked out a nice home on some private property northeast of Denver, Colorado. Thankfully they should be safe as mating season begins and they hopefully raise a nice little family in the coming months. However, many others of this threatened species, won’t be given that same opportunity due to their choice of home location.
Denver International Airport owns a great deal of property in the area, much outside of the airport’s fences. Over the past month, a massive operation to wipe out Prairie Dog habitat and thus historical Burrowing Owl habitat and raptor feeding grounds, has been undertaken by the airport and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
One location that already had owls in it was poisoned and bulldozed, something that is entirely illegal. This is being done ostensibly to mitigate the hazards of a bird striking an airplane, something that is a very real danger.
However, DIA’s and the USDA’s actions appear to have gone wholly overboard. In fact, it may have the opposite effect as without raptors in the area, other birds like geese and ducks that are for more prevalent will come to the area knowing there are no predators. I searched the FAA’s bird strike database for DIA and found that raptors in fact account for a very small percentage of bird strikes at the facility.
It is rather disheartening to see such total disregard for wildlife, particularly when it involves a threatened species like the Burrowing Owl and protected species like the Bald Eagle.