The four remaining pairs of Burrowing Owls along the Southern California coast are all found at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. Burrowing Owls are listed as “species of special concern“. The naval base’s 1000 acre wildlife refuge is also the home to federally endangered Least Terns. A possible dilemma for biologists monitoring the birds is that the owls could prey on the tern colony.
The Navy has increased protections for the Burrowing Owls within the weapons range and wildlife refuge. An added incentive for the navy is that if the burrowing owls were to become an endangered species, that level of protection might impact the navy’s operations on the base.
The LA Times reported that
Burrowing owls were among the state’s most common birds in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Their numbers have been dropping steadily since the 1940s because of habitat loss through urban development, elimination of rodents they feed on, pesticides, predation by domestic animals, vehicle strikes, collisions with wind turbines and shooting, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.