City and zoo team up to help burrowing owl's decreasing population

Owls find a home underneath Brown Field

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The City of San Diego and San Diego Zoo Global have teamed together to help a native owl species thrive in the South Bay.  50 pairs of burrowing owls have made their underground nests at Brown Field in Otay Mesa.

“There’s a good chance that they would become threatened or endangered so the state has a vested interest in making sure their population stays,” said San Diego Zoo Global biologist Colleen Wisinski.

“Airports kind of act as a little refuge because they’re large expanses of land that are fenced typically and they’re kept undeveloped,” said biologist Cindy Dunn.  Dunn is actually the first full-time biologist hired by the City of San Diego specifically to look out for the animals at Brown and Montgomery Fields.

“We needed somebody who could focus all their attention on maintaining, managing, and monitoring our resources,” said Dunn.

Brown Field is the largest concentration of burrowing owls in San Diego County.

“It’s really the last breeding population in San Diego County,” said Wisinski.

Dunn works with airport officials to balance the safety of humans and animals.

“When it comes to human safety, definitely, that takes priority,” she said. “But at the same time, there are definitely measures that we can take in order to make sure our impact on the environment is reduced.”

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