Does Art Trump Owls?

Is the ego of artists more important than the lives of Burrowing Owls? That question will come before the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Commission tomorrow evening (Wednesday Sept. 14) in a 7 pm Zoom meeting:  A member of the Civic Arts Commission is scheduled to make a case why the design of the existing “Art Deco” fence around the Burrowing Owl Sanctuary in the northeast corner of the park should be retained. That fence is 32 inches high and the gap between the top two cables is 9 inches. Loose dogs of all sizes can and do jump over it or slip through it and invade the Burrowing Owls’ habitat. The artists who designed this project back in 2010-2011 are aware that the fence is unsafe, that owls have been killed and injured, but they value the artistic design — their design — more highly than the safety of these birds. We who love these birds need to send a message. I plan to attend this meeting via Zoom and ask you to join me if you can: Wednesday 7 pm 

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)

Save the Owls!

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2 thoughts on “Does Art Trump Owls?

  • I agree completely. I was working as a docent with Audubon before the ridiculous art project fence went up. I used to see at least 6 Burrowing Owls along the rocky areas in the northeast part of the park. The two women with Audubon who seemed to know nothing, consulted with a UC Berkeley “expert” about what the owls needed and was told to cut down all the shrubs, like fennel, which they did. The shrubs were the only protection the little owls had from the dogs. The owls that returned that year stood forlornly behind the stumps of where their shrubs had been.

    Meanwhile, the Audubon women kept talking about eliminating “non-native” plants, without seeming to know what is native or not, or that the nearby businesses in the park are full of non-native expensive landscaping. The owls and other birds need every plant they can get, and the non-native fennel and mustard and radish and other edible species are crucial for their and other birds and butterflies survival. This area, after all, used to be the city dump and before them was under the bay. Enough with the precious focus on fake “woke” versus reality.

    Then there was a plan to kill the California Ground Squirrels who help the owls survive and who have language. A few of us luckily stopped that, but people are still harassed for caring for the Squirrels.

    Then “art project” appeared, that I’d been told cost $100,000. It is no protection for the owls at all. Even worse, one of the art project benches was place on top of one of the two remaining owl burrows, and then other burrow was paved over, for no rational reason.

    It’s almost as if people were making money by destroying the Burrowing Owl habitat.

    I’m in complete agreement about the taking care of the owls rather than the egos of the “artists” for a project that is worse than useless.

    Also, since people have refused for years to keep dogs on leash and out of the small owl area, dogs should be completely banned. Dogs are allowed in almost every park in the Bay Area as it is. Most people I know have been menaced by dogs and many bitten, but this place is even more important because of the owls. Plus there are other special and vulnerable animals in the park like Gopher Snakes. Why not for once prioritize the animals and plants and nature, and not humans? Also, forbid all poisons and removal of plants.

  • We need to protect the burrowing owls and other wildlife in the park. The owls are particularly vulnerable.

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