MARCO ISLAND, Fla — Florida Fish and Wildlife officers and Marco Island Police are investigating a home builder for putting dirt on a burrowing owl nest.
Wildlife observers say the nest was in a lot where a home was being built along Cottonwood Court in Marco Island.
"There needs to be some enforcement, there needs to be some accountability," said Policy Director for Audubon of the Western Everglades.
Burrowing Owls became threatened species in Florida in 2017. Earlier this year Marco Island passed its own ordinance for protected species, violators could be fined up to $2,500 for multiple offenses.
An attorney representing Nova, the developer said the incident was a result of a miscommunication.
“It was unfortunately a miscommunication regarding the location of the delivery of the fill that led to this incident. Fortunately, the nest was not active and no owls or eggs were in the nest when the incident occurred," attorney Neil Morales said in a statement.
But Cornell says state law requires builders to secure a nest removal permit, regardless of whether the nest is occupied.
"We’ve been watching that nest we have not seen owls there, but the point is, any burrow, it takes a biologist to figure out what’s going on.”
Morales says his client feels bad for what happened, and donated $1,000 to the Burrowing Owl Conversation Network.