On July 24, the institute’s board of directors adopted the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network under Earth Island Institute’s Project Support Program, and will provide sponsorship to the grassroots campaign and bolster much-needed support for this imperiled raptor.
Burrowing Owl Conservation Network began as group of dedicated birders, conservationists, biologists and concerned citizens who came together as the Friends of East Bay Owls to oppose the eviction of a resident population of burrowing owls in Antioch.
In December of 2009, the group initiated conservation and advocacy efforts, appealed to California Attorney General Jerry Brown and organized a letter campaign to the Director of the California Department of Fish and Game to protect the Antioch owls and the species as a whole from habitat loss – a threat responsible for the loss of more than 50 percent of burrowing owls in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“The situation has evolved from a local issue to a California and North American-wide movement focused on restoring habitat, increasing populations and changing policies directly responsible for the species’ decline,” said Scott Artis, founding director of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Network. “The burrowing owls being evicted from the Kiper Blue Ridge housing development in Antioch highlighted the need for conservation work, advocacy, community and educational outreach, and research.
“In order to reverse the declining burrowing owl population trend, we need to get our communities excited and directly involved in activities that promote preservation. We have a great opportunity to transform the public into citizen scientists and conservationists, as their sightings are essential in ensuring individual owls and colonies are being protected. Earth Island Institute is the logical next step, as it will enable us to expand our programs and focus on our conservation activities.”
Burrowing Owl Conservation Network is actively seeking and requesting submission of all burrowing owl sightings by the general public. To learn more about burrowing owls, report burrowing owl sightings and support these conservation efforts, visit www.burrowingowlconservation.org.