CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- The city of Cape Coral will now be spending almost $200,000 to maintain burrowing owl nests.
For the last 16 years, the city bird has been protected by Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, marking their nests and maintaining grass around them. However, the city has decided to take over the project, tending to thousands of nests on city property, while Friends of Wildlife will continue caring for owls burrowing in people's yards.
"It will make our job so much better to do those, so we can concentrate on a smaller number than try to maintain over 2,500 burrows in the city," said Sheryl Anderson, volunteer at Cape Coral Wildlife and Friends.
But taking care of burrowing owl nests isn't free. It will cost almost $200,000 to keep the tiny owls safe.
Some who live in Cape Coral want to see a breakdown of the expenses. "How they spend the money in detail, you know, why it costs $200,000. It seems a little bit high to me," said one resident. "We'd like to see the budget going to some other areas, especially improvements for sidewalks and roads."
Anderson calls it an investment. She tells Fox 4 protecting the burrowing owls only increases the city's value as an eco-tourism spot. "They're so photogenic and they're so cute," she said. "We actually have people who come from all over the world, Europe, Asia, just to photograph these owls."