My name is JP and I work with Colleen Lenihan under Ron Swaisgood.  Thank you from all of us for getting in touch, we are looking forward to using your support!

Just to keep you in the loop, we are working out the details of getting the materials for the squirrel cages today.  Could you tell me your group's schedule?  I imagine you all have classes during the day, so what days of the week and what times would you be available to help us with all our tasks?

Thank you, I look forward to meeting you all very soon,

Jean-Pierre Montagne

Sr. Research Technician

Applied Animal Ecology Division

San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research
15600 San Pasqual Valley Rd Escondido CA 92027-7000

(760) 291-5481

"We are the science of saving species"™

Hi Dr. Lenihan,

We think that's a great plan! Establishing safe nests for the burrowing owls sounds be helpful in the long run, too, because then they'll have secure places to rear their young for years to come. We're extremely psyched about the owls.

Today I talked with a few STOP members, and we came up with a few quick questions. First off, what's the rough time frame for this? Has the Zoo already began the project or are you going to start in late March/early April? Do you think this will carry on into the summer? (We'd be willing to help then, too, although earlier's probably better for the owls.)

We were also wondering exactly how big the cages were.  Do you happen to have any diagrams of the process?

Our schedules might be a little tight, but I think things are definitely starting to lighten up in spring.  Anyway, please let us know what times/locations (I think Mr. Swaisgood said Otay Mesa?) are suitable, and we'll try to bring as many people as we can to assist you in these efforts.


Dr. Lenihan has agreed to take on our project!  She and her group of professional researchers have further reviewed our plans and helped us create a reasonable timeline for its implementation.  She explains in the email the exact steps and reasons for those steps.  After all these months of hectic work, we're so excited to be able to start this portion of our project!

Hi Members of STOP,

We love your Burrowing owl / CA ground squirrel project!

We are about to launch the field portion of this project and we do need some help. Part of the project involves re-introducing CA ground squirrels to enhance habitat and success of burrowing owls because owls need squirrels to dig burrows and keep the grass short around their nesting areas. We could relocate approximately 300 squirrels and hold them at the new site for approximately 1 week. This means that we will need to build 108 underground burrow pens and about 30 or so above-ground  acclimation pens. The combination of artificial burrows installed underground and the acclimation pens aboveground will hold the squirrels for one week before we set them free by removing the aboveground pens.

So, first we need help building and installing both above and below ground holding pens.  This will involve building cages, possibly at your school if you have facilities for that type of work and then going out in the field with our research team to install and set up the experimental relocation sites.  You would be interacting with a team of biologists that work with the Institute of Conservation Research and we would be more than happy to present to your club/class presentations about this project.

Are you interested in a venture of this type? If so please send me your contact info.

Thank you,

Colleen Lenihan

Postdoctoral Researcher
Institute for Conservation Research
San Diego Zoo Global

Wow, things have been hectic lately.

After trashing dozens of possible designs, we've finally settled on a final owl key chain model that we have constructed by hand.  We will likely be expanding to faster modes of manufacture when our sales pick up.  This time, we simply wanted to know how our design would look in 3D, and finally, we took some pictures and had our first sale today!  We also brainstormed an idea to have each piece of merchandise come with a placard with burrowing owl information on it so we can be sure to spread the word about this little bird!  We need to get the word out and help now before we lose this species forever.

We've also finally come up with a final T-shirt design, thanks to our member Jojo Lee.  We're in the process of creating physical copies of it and writing the placard to include with our products.  We've also been updating our website and starting to really buckle down and write the final report for our competition.  There's the visual presentation we need to have, as well as materials to hand out around the community, and on top of that, we're on another round of refining our project outline.  Honestly, we would have all collapsed already if we didn't believe in our cause.  There's always such a sense of purpose and need to spread the word and save this essential species before it's too late.  The urgency of our work shows every time we drive along the road and look at the dead patches of land where owls had once thrived, or read a report about the faulty laws regarding construction and habitat destruction.  We're starting to meet more in school, working during our lunches and after school.  We really need to make the world see the worth of this species, and convince it that the fate of these owls really applies to them as well.