Cape Coral council member proposes ordinance to protect burrowing owls

They may be small, but across Cape Coral, these little guys are hard to miss.

“We have the largest population of burrowing owls probably in the world right here in Cape Coral,” Pascha Donaldson said, the vice president of Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife.

These small mammals, with large round eyes and long legs, can be seen standing stoically in nature or heard making a distinctive, “eep,” sound. More than 2,500 of burrowing owls call Cape Coral home.

“We are the epicenter, Donaldson said. “If these animals continue to be lost and they go up to endangered, it will affect us economically.”

Donaldson has spent years fighting on behalf of threatened birds. She believes a new proposed Cape Coral ordinance is a long time coming.

“It’s part of a whole scape,” John Carioscia said, a Cape Coral council member.

Cape Coral burrowing owls stoically gaze. Photo via WINK News.
Cape Coral burrowing owls stoically gaze. Photo via WINK News.

Carioscia introduced the ordinance that would give local authorities in Cape Coral the right to enforce laws, which protect the threaten birds, rather than having to turn the cases over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

“If we have a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer on vacation for this area and one is in court, there’s a real tremendous time delay to get the enforcement rolling,” Carioscia said. “Now our guys will be able to go out there on a call… And take some action.”

Last month, we told readers law enforcement arrested a man accused of destroying six burrowing owl nests in Cape Coral. It is incidents like that Cape Coral council hopes it can reduce with a speeder response.

“We want to keep them as our official city bird so that people can actually see them 10, 15, 20 years down the road,” Donaldson said. “This will be hands-on right here we can deal with it immediately.”

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
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