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squirl033 Mar 9, 2017 4:22 PM

One last Leque Island owl
The location where this was taken will be undergoing major changes this year and next, and it's questionable whether the owls will return next winter. The state department of fish and wildlife, which manages the site, has elected to breach the levees that keep this meadow relatively dry, and allow it to return to a tidal salt marsh. The levees were built in the 1930s and have been leaking and slowly failing for the last 10 years or so, and the state has apparently decided it's cheaper to breach them and let the meadow flood than to repair the levees and preserve this habitat. The local tribes have supported the idea, claiming the change will help local salmon (the "salmon card" trumps everything else, it seems), though I don't know of any salmon species that lives or spawns in salt marshes... In any case, the state plans to bring in heavy equipment this summer to dig some "tidal channels"; in the process, the habitat for the meadow voles which the owls feed on will be severely damaged or destroyed. As a result, the owls may only return in limited numbers next winter, or they may not bother at all. The summer after this one - 2018 - the WDFW will breach the levees, and the entire area will be flooded at high tide, exposing only mud flats and salt water vegetation at low tide. Safe bet the owls will not return at all after that. With those changes in mind, here's one last portrait of one of the Leque Island short-eared owls...

NHL Mar 11, 2017 5:32 AM

Awesome and great narrative ;)

squirl033 Mar 17, 2017 1:02 PM

Thanks, NHL!

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