Landowner Harassment Harms Owls

Love owls?  Actions speak louder than words, and the thoughtless actions of a small number of people who’ve been harassing landowners in the Washington County Grasslands IBA shows a blatant disregard for the owls and their hosts.

Landowners have become increasingly frustrated this winter with photographers and birders lining up their tripods in front of houses and barns near trees where Long-eared owls and Short-eared owls are roosting, standing with their cameras or tripods in the middle of the road, trespassing on private property and “hanging around up to thirty minutes at a time.”

Often, it’s the same people.

“It can be aggravating when we try to get to our mailbox and driveway,” said one farmer who remains fond of the owls in spite of the annoyance and invasion of their privacy. “I have been tempted to put up a fence in front of the trees… People are asked not to block the barn driveway either.”

This tolerance does not extend to all the owls’ neighbors. Some just want the birds – and people – gone.

These actions would annoy anybody and harm the owls by constantly interrupting their rest. They also create animosity toward the birds and bird conservation in the Washington County Grasslands IBA.

Next time you visit the IBA, please think our neighbors and the owls and treat them with the respect they deserve. And if you’ve already been to see or photograph the Long-eared owls, consider birding in other areas of the IBA. After all, how many photos of an owl sitting in a tree do you really need?

Thank you from the FIBA Board, our neighbors and the birds!