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Candidate Conservation Agreement for the Relocation of Burrowing Owls
Southwest Region, September 24, 2008
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Western burrowing owl populations are slowly declining throughout their range.   Reasons for this are primarily attributed to habitat loss and fragmentation from agricultural and urban development and the loss of burrows due to declines in populations of fossorial mammals from control programs.  In Arizona, population estimates suggest that the burrowing owl is widespread, being documented in 14 of the 15 counties, but is considered uncommon in the state.  Although the owls may occupy burrows in a variety of habitats and man-made structures, continuing development is destroying many burrows or filling them in with dirt, sometimes trapping the owls underground.  Surviving owls are forced to find new homes but locating a new area with suitable habitat is difficult.

In cooperation with Wild at Heart (WAH) , a non-profit organization, burrowing owl relocations are possible with the construction of artificial burrows.  Rescued are brought to Wild at Heart temporarily. The next step is finding them a new home.   

The Arizona Ecological Services Office (AESO) is developing a collaborative agreement with WAH, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD), Arizona Game and Fish (AGFD), and the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) in creating a Candidate Conservation Agreement to provide habitat for the relocation of displaced owls by constructing artificial burrows and creating new colonies in the green-up areas adjacent to the Central Arizona Project.  On September 16 and 24, staff conducted a site visit of eight green-up areas in southern and western Arizona.  Six relocation sites were identified.  Of these six, two areas are considered ideal or priority 1 sites (e.g. sites with bare ground and widely spaced creosote that is adjacent to farm land with few to no tall structures or grassland habitat with no tall structures).  These relocations sites will support up to 200 burrowing owls at.  Of further significance,  the success of these relocations will enhance the persistence of the subspecies in Arizona and provide opportunity for research that will add to our limited knowledge of burrowing owl ecology.

Contact Info: Nick Carrillo, (602) 242-0210x203, nick_carrillo@fws.gov



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