Curt Fonger: Nature’s process interrupted when owlets were moved in Apache Junction

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to kind of calm down after reading your story (https://apachejunctionindependent.com/news/fire-district-removes-owls-from-their-highway-home-but-at-whose-direction/) about the young owlets out on Highway 60. By the way – excellent job in writing up the sequence of events and putting together a factual accounting of this unfortunate incident.

I feel I am quite knowledgeable when it comes to nature and the creatures that inhabit it. I don’t claim to be an expert, but with over 50 years of experience in varying degrees of hiking and photographing animals all over the world, learning their traits, characteristics and habits, in my mind, this qualifies me to at least, have an opinion in this matter.

This fiasco was created by someone (a concerned citizen) who obviously knows very little about either of these subjects. What occurred was a result of someone who, I’m sure had good intentions and was concerned, into a total breakdown of common sense on his or her part, as well as Assistant Fire Chief Dave Montgomery of the Superstition Fire and Medical District right up to and including Jamie Morone from the Liberty Wildlife animal rescue group.

Unless there is more to this story that I didn’t read in your article, it smacks of overreaction and a knee-jerk decision to take the three owlets out of the nest simply based on the say-so of someone who had nothing more than an inner feeling of concern? I find this ludicrous at best.

I think Mr. Montgomery was caught between a rock and a hard place; a citizen complains, he did the right thing – he called animal rescue. However, they did not personally come to the scene to survey the entirety of this situation. Then, of all things, your article states that Liberty Wildlife was not aware of the rescue? As stated ADOT had no problem with the owls nesting there. So what’s the problem? I hardly believe that these organizations are in place to merely pacify and react to an individual’s meritless phone call.

As evidenced by the photo on the front page, it shows two of the three owlets looking fearfully into a camera lens. The owlets are plump, not sickly – they didn’t get that way by their parents abandoning them – they were out hunting on a continuous basis to feed their young family.

The “caller” stated that the parents had not been seen by the nest in a couple of days. I must ask – did the caller keep steady 24/7 surveillance of the nest? No, of course not. The same thing happens to all large birds of prey, Bald Eagles included. The parents are out hunting and gone for longer and longer periods away from the nest to allow their young to attempt to fledge. They fly in briefly, deposit food for “the kids,” then fly off again. That’s how it works, mystery concerned citizen.

What this concerned citizen did was interrupt nature’s process. This was followed up by other individuals, in my opinion, not using common sense. While these actions may have been well-meaning, the great-horned owl family had their children taken from them for no good reason at all. Their family unit was destroyed by overreaction that didn’t and shouldn’t have happened. Of final note on this matter whereby the executive director from Liberty Wildlife states the incident was, and I quote “ a mass miscommunication.” I couldn’t agree more. That statement alone bears out everything I have said.

Then, on top of that -– to tear down and destroy the entire nest? Why? Wasn’t interrupting nature’s beautiful sequence of allowing passersby to witness this wonderful growth process of baby owls, to the final event of fledging and freedom of flight enough? No, of course not. Humans once again proved that they can destroy a good thing, not just a little but totally.

Concern that the young owls would flop down on the road and get run over? Hardly. With the vast Sonoran desert behind them (with all its delicious fare) they certainly wouldn’t have landed on the 196 exit ramp.

I am deeply disappointed and repulsed by this most regrettable action created by one person’s phone call.

While it is now a couple of weeks removed and most have forgotten about it, I didn’t. This was wrong on so many levels, that frankly, it took me time to respond in somewhat of a calmer state of mind.

Thank you, Wendy, for your fine work in informing and providing your readers factual information and stories such as this.
Curt Fonger
Gold Canyon

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