Friday, March 18, 2005

Alice Testifies!

Yesterday, March 17, Alice and I drove up to St. Paul. It was Alice's first time up there, and we were there to testify before the House of Representatives Natural Resources Policy Committee regarding HF0419, a bill to remove Great Horned Owls from the "unprotected birds" list in Minnesota.

Needless to say, I was nervous. It's not like this is Roe vs. Wade or anything, but hey, I've never testified in front of a legislative committee before!!!

When we went into the hearing room, quite a few folks were already abuzz, asking each other "Where's the owl?", "Where's it from?" etc. It seems Alice was going to be the highlight of their day. Then the cameramen came in, then more guys with regular cameras. Apparently this was a thing for the press!

The testifying part actually wasn't anything super exciting. I just told Alice's story, which covers most of the basic Great Horned Owl biology stuff and also covers the issue of confusion regarding the conflicting state and federal laws about Great Horned Owls.

There were a few questions, but nothing of major importance. Someone from enforcement was there, and he confirmed my assessment of the regulations as questions were asked. One of the Representatives on the Natural Resources Policy Committe, Jeanne Poppe, is originally from Houston and a dedicated Alice fan...a nice surprise! She was happily telling everyone about Alice, her personality, and that Alice was from her hometown.

Representative Cox had really done his homework on this issue...already contacting the timber and ag industries to make sure they had no opposition. An amendment was added to the bill just to clarify that no state depredation permits are necessary when a federal depredation permit it issued (some states do require one, some states don't), but I need some clarification as to if this removes the need for ANY state permit regarding Great Horned Owls....such as the special purpose possession permit for a live owl for educational purposes. Such permits are required for all other raptors used in educational programs, so it would be weird to exempt Great Horned Owls from this.

I've heard that we made the KARE 11 evening news in the Twin Cities. I'm not sure if we made any other press or not, but we'll sit back and wait for the voting to happen now. I'm not sure when that will be, but it will have to be voted on in the Senate, also. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, March 11, 2005

An "Intruder"

As part of the Festival of Owls this last weekend, Marge Gibson (Alice's rehabilitator) came and brought 6 live owls (Eastern Screech-, Long-eared, Barred, 2 Barns, Barred & Great Horned Owls.) Marge's live owl programs are always a big hit with the crowd, but maybe not with Alice....

Bumpy, the Great Horned Owl Marge brought along for the programs, is a male. Since males are smaller than females, and Alice is a BIG female, we held them side by side during the programs to show the size (and color) difference. Alice didn't like being so close to another owl....she actually hissed and clacked her bill at Bumpy during the program!! It takes a lot to make Alice clack her bill.

Marge and the birds spent the night at our house, along with Great Gray Owl biologist and keynote speaker Jim Duncan. We stayed up talking, and Bumpy hung out with us downstairs. Bumpy is normally a very hooty bird during mating season, but his bout of West Nile Virus has changed his personality. He's been slowly recovering, and has only recently returned to his old hooty self. So hoot he did.

Alice didn't appreciate it. While she didn't say much while I was downstairs with everyone, the next morning she got clucky and hooty as soon as she heard me walking to her room. I think she would have kept vocalizing if I hadn't left her room to go shower. Bumpy didn't say anything until Marge got up, then he got all hooty too.

Sunday night, after Alice was home again and everyone had left, Alice turned into the hootiest owl she's ever been. She hooted almost non-stop from 8 PM to 3 AM! And she's stayed hooty and clucky too. Everytime she sees my husband or me she starts getting clucky and heads for her nest box or nest basket. Or sometimes she'll start hooting just because she hears us talking. She's never been this bad before.

She is calming down with the hooting some, but she's still got the renewed interest in her nest box and basket. Apparently intruding owls can make for a very jealous Alice....