Owls have friends all over. More than three hundred of them signed our petition at the Solano Stroll on Sunday Sept. 11. Our crew of volunteers staffing the Conservancy booth was kept busy all day explaining the situation with the owl fence and handing out our two new brochures. The brochure with artist Bill Reynolds’ painting of some of the birds and other creatures often seen in the park drew a specially delighted response. The number of paper signatures we gathered plus the online signatures put us at over 70 percent of our initial goal of 500 signatures for the owl fence campaign. That’s in just the first three days.
Many people told us that they had seen Burrowing Owls in Chavez Park. Everyone agreed that the old fence was no protection for the birds. “A joke,” some called it. Appreciation for the fence as artwork, if it was felt, was not voiced.
A few people had visited the park repeatedly but never seen a Burrowing Owl. We advised them to subscribe to chavezpark.org and they would hear about it asap when an owl was spotted. Burrowing Owls clearly hold a special spot in the hearts of people who have had the chance to observe them.
A number of the signers on Sunday were dog owners who used the park. “I always keep my dog on leash outside the Off Leash Area,” said one. “I hate it that there are owners that don’t care about birds or squirrels and think they’re entitled.”
Several people told us they were totally puzzled why it was necessary to get up a petition so as to provide a good fence to protect the owls. Shouldn’t the city government that runs the park jump in and do that on its own? Good question. The inertia of bureaucracy certainly plays a role here. When it comes to nature, Berkeley government is reactive, not proactive. But it’s also our fault. We haven’t been strong enough advocates for the owls in the past. With this petition campaign we’re working to fix that.
Many people thanked us for what we were doing.
Taking shifts at the table between 10 am and 5 pm were Mary Law, Brian Gregson, Lee Tempkin, Emilie Keas, and Marty Nicolaus.