Research shows most effective time to translocate burrowing owls
Burrowing owls are a species of conservation concern that is increasingly coming into conflict with urban and commercial development. A mitigation strategy to manage owl populations involves relocating owls to new sites away from the development. For example, in the greater Phoenix area, 100-400 owls are translocated each year due to development. However, methods for doing this had not been evaluated.
In response, researchers at New Mexico State University spent two years (2017-2019) evaluating the survival, site fidelity, nest survival and productivity of burrowing owls translocated from areas undergoing development compared to nearby resident “wild” owls in the Phoenix area. They tracked the fates of 43 translocated and 42 resident owls over 56 weeks to determine survival, fidelity to the study area, nest establishment, nest survival and the number of young produced.
The results suggest group releases of burrowing owls (8-10 adults in a release group) during the breeding season is not an appropriate translocation method. Translocation of burrowing owls should take place in the non-breeding season and should be restricted to single individuals or male-female pairs. The researchers recommend that owls be released in sync with the ecological timeframe of dispersal and movements of wild owls in the region. For Arizona, this timeframe is from mid‐October when the dispersal of owls has ended to mid‐February before breeding activities start. The results will be published in the Journal of Wildlife Management in 2023. Management recommendations have been shared with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Department of Game and Fish.
Link to full statement on website: http://landgrantimpacts.tamu.edu/impacts/show/6126