We're finally done outlining a detailed plan to create a new owl colony in the Otay Mesa preserve that the Zoo told us about in their email.  We researched extensively, including what rodents we would use, where we would get the rodents, and how we would dispose of them after they finished building burrows.  Along the way, we came across this quotation by Dr. Lenihan of the San Diego Zoo: "The re-establishment of California ground squirrels is a critical component of any long-term recovery plan for burrowing owls and the larger ecosystem because squirrels provide vital resources," Lenihan said. "Sites with ground squirrel colonies have a greater diversity of reptiles, amphibians, insects and birds than sites where they are absent." 

With that, we decided to incorporate ground squirrels into our process, because it would greatly simplify processes after they finished burrowing, since we could simply release them to further replenish the environment.  This sets up an ideal situation in which we both increase biodiversity by reintroducing burrowing owls and ground squirrels back into areas where they were exterminated or otherwise removed, but we also contribute to reestablishing the ecological processes the dominated the area before human intervention.  Our project will actually be helping to reestablish two species at once!

We also decided that we would rescue all animals from around Southern California, researching and mapping points of collection.  Today, we finalized our plans and contacted Mr. Swaisgood who put us in contact with Dr. Lenihan, who is in charge of the Zoo’s Otay Mesa Owl Project.  We just started our letter to her.

At the same time, some team members decided that it would be a good idea to participate in some community service project competitions, since these competitions would give us a chance to present before philanthropically-inclined people and educate them about the burrowing owl.  We researched one competition, the Community Problem Solving Competition of the Future Problem Solving Program, learned the rules, and registered as a team.  At our meeting today, our members started drafting their parts of the final report while others designed more merchandise. Still others compiled more research on burrowing owl-squirrel interactions.

 


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