[Ontbirds] Amherst Island's-Owl Woods new rules

Chris Grooms jaba1961 at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 10 11:08:51 EST 2010

In accordance with the wishes of the landowners of Owl Woods, the Kingston Field Naturalists would like to state the following conditions for visiting this privately owned property. 
Many of you have heard of and many of you have observed the disturbance to owls caused by large numbers of people visiting the Owl Woods on Amherst Island. This privately-owned nature reserve became popular a few decades ago when a small pine plantation was discovered to be a daytime roosting site for a number owl species. The owners of this property graciously allowed birders and interested people to enter their land to view and count the owls during their migration and the winter each year. Since then, many people have enjoyed the Owl Woods and benefitted from the unique, close-up contact with nature. It has been a great educational and inspiring experience for all. 
These days, it is not uncommon to have well over 100 people visit the Woods on a weekend day. Somewhere along the way the drive to see an owl for a bird list or to snap that perfect picture has out-stripped the sense that this rare site and its inhabitants should be revered and respected. As has happened with many popular natural phenomena, people have begun to threaten the object of their affection. 
The Kingston Field Naturalists have been aware of and concerned about these developments for some time, and with the property owners, are working towards solutions. The intention is to find ways to reduce the impact of people on the owls to a level that permits the Owl Woods to afford the owls the protection they need and continue to serve as a nature education experience for people. Failure to soon bring the situation under control may well mean that the owl woods could be closed to visitors by the owners. 
You can help the situation in several ways. If you have been to Owl Woods in recent years, consider being satisfied with that experience and not visiting for a while. Don’t come just to tick your year or winter list or get another photo of an owl. Because of the pressure on the owls, the landowners would like people to stop posting owl observations from Owl Woods on ONTBIRDS.   Please respect this request; do not post reports from Owl Woods. If you do visit the Owl Woods follow these simple rules as set out by the landowners:
The reserve is open only from sunrise to one hour before sunset.
Do not spend more then two hours in the reserve per day.
Absolutely no dogs are allowed.
Keep a minimum distance of five metres from owls.
Be silent; speak in whispers.
Do not linger in front of an owl more than a couple of minutes.
If you cause an owl to fly, do not pursue it.
Do not bait owls with rodents.
No flash photography allowed.
No sound devices allowed.
Do not remove branches or vegetation.
Stay on the existing trails. Persons entering roped-off areas will be prosecuted.
Report harassment of owls to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).

Chris Grooms, President, Kingston Field Naturalists 


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