I was standing outside the fence around the Burrowing Owl Sanctuary, filming a ground squirrel digging up and eating buried goodies, see the video, when it suddenly took alarm and dashed off. In a moment I saw why. A large shepherd-type dog was running toward us, inside the fence.
The dog had leaped the decorative wire gate on the south end of the area and was racing north, stopping now and then to sniff something. It traced the entire boundary of the area on the water side and eventually hopped over the wall on the north end, where its owner (after a loud oral warning from me) put it on leash. (The owner said he didn’t realize dogs had to be on leash here, he didn’t see the signs.)
If any owls had been in this area, which is supposed to be a safe refuge for them, they would have been in mortal danger. No wildlife is safe when four-legged hunters like this are on the loose.
This is not the first dog to invade the area, just the first one to do so this season while I had my camera running. The “fence” around the area means virtually nothing to an off-leash dog. Small or large, they can get through it or over it.
When will Parks management get serious about protecting the owls? It doesn’t seem to matter that the owls are in trouble in California. Management doesn’t seem to care that it’s both a state and federal crime to disturb them. A week ago as a volunteer I built a short demonstration fence out of 4′ high green plastic mesh on the south end of the area that would have kept this dog out. That project took an hour and cost practically nothing. Parks management destroyed that effective fence and restored the worthless ineffective wire gate that let this dog in.
Please, Parks management, stop enabling dog invasions of the Burrowing Owl habitat. Please stop destroying effective alternatives. There are many people who care for the owls, and they are dismayed and disappointed by your heartless attitude. Please, please protect the owls!