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Are Burrowing Owls Present in Cape Coral’s Bimini Square Development?

Cape Coral’s Bimini Square development is ready to be a singular addition to the town’s growing downtown area. Nonetheless, there may be a priority concerning the potential eviction of a few of Cape Coral’s official birds, the Florida burrowing owls. These owls are special because they live underground in burrows and are frequently no greater than a soda can.

The town of Cape Coral has enacted an ordinance to guard the burrowing owl, allowing the police department and code enforcement to collaborate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to implement violations. This ordinance mirrors a state statute already in place for the owls. Based on the town’s website, there are over 3,500 owl burrows in Cape Coral. These owls inhabit open areas with low vegetation resembling dry prairies, parks, golf courses, and vacant lots. Violators who remove burrowing owl nests without proper state permits or violate every other parts of the Cape ordinance can face fines of as much as $500 and as much as 60 days in Lee County jail.

Burrowing owls are also designated as a threatened species by the state of Florida, primarily on account of the lack of their habitat attributable to construction activities, human and animal harassment, and flooding. Under this designation, it’s prohibited to take, possess, or sell burrowing owls, their nests, or eggs with out a permit.

The developers of Bimini Square, Larry and Matthew Nygard, have stated that the location they plan to develop has eight burrowing owl burrows inside 4 clusters. They claim to have obtained the needed permits from the FWC and have hired Passarella & Associates, Inc., an ecological and environmental consulting firm, to make sure compliance with regulations. The town has confirmed that the developers possess a sound bird nest removal permit. Construction is scheduled to start in early November, during which the burrows will probably be inspected and collapsed by a certified ecologist in accordance with the permit and FWCC burrowing owl guidelines.

Based on the developers, the location has been checked multiple times by their consulting firm, and there have been instances where an owl was present and times when there have been none. They assure that Passarella & Associates will follow proper protocol to handle these owls and burrows accurately. Moreover, all work related to the burrowing owls will probably be accomplished outside of their nesting season, which generally occurs from Feb. 15 to July 10.

The town of Cape Coral has implemented various initiatives to trace and expand the habitats of the owls. Through the Cape Coral Wildlife Conservation Program, the town has provided funding to the Cape Coral Wildlife Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving undeveloped parcels in the town for burrowing owl habitat. The town also maintains a wildlife GIS database to trace the known habitats of protected species, including the bald eagle, gopher tortoise, and burrowing owl. Moreover, the town has applied for a grant to accumulate additional properties for burrowing owl habitat preservation.

When burrowing owls are found, city staff mark the burrow and record the situation within the database. Staff members who may encounter these owls receive training on FWC rules and regulations, reporting procedures, and onsite compliance measures. Rotary Park collaborates with the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife to offer environmental teaching programs, conduct research on burrowing owls, and organize the Annual Burrowing Owl Festival, with proceeds benefiting the Cape Coral Wildlife Trust.

Overall, Cape Coral is committed to the protection and conservation of the burrowing owl population and has implemented measures to make sure their well-being and habitat preservation.

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