Assessing California's Mitigation Guidelines for Burrowing Owls Impacted by Renewable Energy
Improving mitigation actions for burrowing owls impacted by renewable energy development.
The project was completed in 2019, and the final report was received. The researchers captured the targeted number of burrowing owls at development sites for three treatment groups. They released the active translocation group of owls at conservation areas and monitored their mortality and reproductive success. Short-term survival after translocation was relatively high, with no apparent reduction in reproduction. In collaboration with the Technical Advisory Committee, the project team refined the study design and research protocols and made recommendations to wildlife regulatory agencies about translocation protocols. In addition, they tested GPS units and modified their design for use with burrowing owls. The team shared sample material from captured owls with researchers in EPC-14-061 and EPC-15-043 to extend the data used for isotopic and genetic analyses in those projects.
The project analyzed the consequences of both passive and active relocation methods for burrowing owls (a California Species of Special Concern), and filled an existing need for robust scientific data on the relative effectiveness of relocation as a conservation method. Secondary goals were to provide data on owl movements and habitat use that could inform collision risk models and site selection decisions for renewable energy-generating facilities. The project team fit more than 50 owls with GPS tracking devices and divided them into three study groups--active translocation, passive relocation, and a control group. Frequent site visits provided information on mortality rates and reproductive output.
Environmental & Public Health
The project measured the relative effectiveness of alternative methods for translocation of burrowing owls that are displaced from renewable energy development areas. This should lead to better guidelines for mitigating impacts on this California Species of Special Concern. The project produced management recommendations to the wildlife regulatory agencies to improve the success of owl translocations.