The Litchfield Park, Ariz. club installed eight barn owl nesting habitats through its courses. A nesting family of owls can easily hunt more than 100 rodents a week, but just one poisoned rodent can kill an entire nest of owls. “This is really just a natural way to remove the gophers, instead of using chemicals,” said Chad Parron, Wigwam’s Superintendent.
With the help of Arizona Wildlife Resource and Wild at Heart Wildlife Rescue, The Wigwam Golf Club in Litchfield Park, Ariz. installed barn owl nesting habitats through its courses, allowing the 1-pound birds to safely seek shelter, the West Valley View reported. With the help of Arizona Wildlife Resource and Wild at Heart Wildlife Rescue, eight habitats have been installed, each standing 13 feet tall. The goal of the habitat is to encourage more natural rodent control.
“We started to see a gopher problem here, so we decided to reach out to the Rescue to have them build some owl houses for us. This is really just a natural way to remove the gophers, instead of using chemicals,” said Chad Parron, The Wigwam’s Superintendent.
Valerie Motyka, owner of Arizona Wildlife Support, said one of the major reasons for the decline of all species is usually habitat loss, the View reported. The Wigwam’s implementation of the habitats allows the resort to utilize the birds for their rodent and insect control while also preventing injury or loss to the owls.
“It’s a natural rodent control that keeps the rodent population in check without putting chemicals like identified rat poison into the ground to try to kill the rodents. If we were to use rat poison to kill the rodents, that would have harmful effects to owls, hawks and even domestic pets like cats and dogs,” Motyka said.
The habitats are perfect for the cavity nesters, as they are nonterritorial, Motyka told the View, meaning multiple owls tend to nest together in a small space.
Barn owls are not a risk to domestic pets, as they only eat rodents such as pack rats, pocket gophers and roof rats, the View reported. A nesting family can easily hunt more than 100 rodents a week, Motyka said.
“In urban developments, especially golf courses, they have the wide-open area that the owl likes to hunt in and they usually have a ton of pocket gophers, which is a nocturnal rodent that does a lot of damage, and the owls are really good at hunting them,” Motyka said. “By simply giving them the cavity structure and the safe space to nest, they will automatically be drawn to the area.”
As The Wigwam has made the effort to do their part in helping wildlife in the community, Motyka said she hopes it inspires others to keep rodenticide use down and find alternative ways, the View reported.
“One owl family can hunt over 100 rodents a week, but it also only takes one poisoned rodent to kill an entire nest of owls,” she said.
Motyka told the View there are ways residents can help save the wildlife simply by the choices they make when choosing pest control companies.
“Make sure they are not just lazily throwing around poison without suggesting or making any habitat changes,” Motyka said. “Poison should only ever be used as a last base scenario. Cleaning up debris, installing rodent exclusion products and eliminating attractants should all be part of a healthy pest management control.”
Motyka said she hopes the implementation of the habitats will help the wildlife find a much-needed safe and environmentally friendly home that will benefit both the animals and the community, the View reported.
“Baby birds eat an insane amount of rodents and insects, and if we could partner together to nurture wildlife, then we can get a more biodiverse, pretty environment that we can live in without the use of all these toxic chemicals,” Motyka said. “It will bring hawks and owls and songbirds like orioles, cardinals and hummingbirds that even though we see them, they’re still kind of muted, because we’re not giving them the best environment.”