2 baby owls killed when palm tree cut down

May 21, 2008 at 3:37 PM

GILROY, Calif., May 21 (UPI) -- A California crew of tree-trimmers could face criminal charges for cutting down a palm tree with a barn owl nest in its branches, killing two owlets.

A third baby owl is recovering at the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center in Morgan Hill, the San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday.

Sue Howell, the center's executive director, said the tree-trimmers, who were working for the city of Gilroy, were warned twice about the owl nest. She charged they ignored the warnings and cut down the tree Saturday.

Cutting down trees with nests holding eggs or young birds is a violation of state and federal laws, Howell said. Once eggs have been laid in a nest, she said that the tree must be left alone until the birds hatch.

Frank Fantozzi, a volunteer at the center, said the surviving owlet will remain there for several months until it is large enough to be released into the wild. It is being fed diced mouse.

A police spokesman said an investigation will determine if the tree crew followed city procedures.

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