FWC removes burrowing owl from cruise ship golf course
Monday, September 20, 2010
Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459
A Florida burrowing owl, listed as a species of
special concern, was just hours away from becoming a cruise ship
stowaway on Saturday. Just before Royal Caribbean International's
"Oasis of the Seas" was to depart Port Everglades for a tropical
locale, the owl was discovered on the ship's mini-golf course, on
the upper deck. A Royal Caribbean crew member called the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
FWC Lt. David Bingham and a Broward County
Sheriff's Office deputy safely removed the pint-sized bird from the
golf course. Bingham released the owl in an open field in western
"Never in all of my 25 years with the FWC have I
seen anything like this, and I have responded to some strange
calls," Bingham said. "I am very pleased the owl wasn't injured and
that we could get it back to a normal habitat."
As a species of special concern, Florida burrowing
owls, their burrows and their eggs are protected from harassment
and/or disturbance by state law. Burrowing owls also are protected
by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
"Burrowing owls need to be in open, treeless areas
where they can dig their burrow," said FWC biologist Ricardo
Zambrano. "The artificial turf on the ship's golf course resembles
the fields they use for nesting in urban areas; however, it was
obviously not suitable habitat for this owl."