Florida man charged with destroying burrowing owl nests

Burrowing Owls_1534590726222

Two young immature burrowing owls sits at the lip of their nest in Brian Piccalo Park in Pembroke Pines, Fla., Wednesday, May 2, 2012. There are at least five active nests in the park. Burrowing Owls are the only North American owl that nests underground, and sometimes they will nest colonially with just a few […]

CAPE CORAL, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man has been charged with destroying the nests of six burrowing owls. The birds are protected by the state.

Wildlife officials say 52-year-old Jerlis Villalba and his crew were doing landscaping work when he instructed the crew to clear land near the burrows. According to a probable cause affidavit, Villalba admitted that he knew the burrowing owls and their burrows were protected and decided to get close anyway because he hadn’t seen the birds in a long time.

The News-Press reports the burrows had also been listed on construction site plans and various permits.

Villalba was charged Friday with intentionally killing or wounding a threatened or endangered species, its eggs, or its nest.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said all six burrows were destroyed and rendered uninhabitable as a result of the construction.

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