SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe Municipal Airport officials’ removal of prairie dogs is drawing scrutiny from some wildlife advocates.

That’s because the filling of prairie dog holes also is hurting the burrowing owl population.

Airport manager Cameron Humphres says prairie dogs attract birds of prey like burrowing owls, and both cause problems at the airport.

Humphres says planes have had four bird strikes at the airport in recent years, but the prairie dogs can also mess with the runway lighting.

But bird watcher Jim Walters says airport officials can do a better job at monitoring. He says the owl population there has dropped from 68 to 2 since 2008.

Burrowing owls use the prairie dogs holes for their young.

Humphres says the airport is required to remove wildlife.


Information from: KOAT-TV, http://www.thenewmexicochannel.com/index.html