Burrowing owls are a beloved part of wildlife, especially in Cape Coral.
And now, there’s concern about their well-being after one beloved animal was found suffering.
Hootie and Gracie make their home in Jo Lucarelli’s front lawn. They moved in last fall and Lucarelli considers them her pets.
“I love seeing animals in their own habitat and being able to coexist like that. I mean, I just, I felt like we had a bond,” Lucarelli said.
Gracie was often found on a spot on a light outside Lucarelli’s door.
But on Sunday, she noticed something was off.
“I just knew in my heart something was wrong. And I went inside and came back out. And she was facedown with her wings out and I freaked out,” Lucarelli said.
She took Gracie to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, also known as CROW, but sadly Gracie didn’t make it.
“I was just crushed. You know, I had every hope that they could rehabilitate and bring her back,” Lucarelli said.
CROW diagnosed Gracie with a systemic infectious disease or unknown trauma. This isn’t the first burrowing owl death that have seen this year.
In fact, 17 have died so far. This year, CROW has treated 24 burrowing owls this year.
“As we expand our territories and take over some of their land, they’re forced to move elsewhere which means sometimes they have to fly farther for food. Sometimes it’s harder to find food,” said Breanna Frankel, CROW Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager.
That puts the burrowing owls into harm’s way where they could be hit by a car or even attacked by a predator. Lucarelli wants people to pay attention to these creatures especially after seeing how Gracie’s death is impacting Hootie.
“He was actually in front of the door, on the door mat. And he just wasn’t, he’s just, he seems down slow,” Lucarelli said.
The best course of action, CROW said if you see something unusual, say something.