Protected species are found on school properties all of the time and it is everyone's responsibility to not harem them and act as environmental stewards. We do this out of a moral obligation as well as a legal obligation. The most common protected species that are found on our school properties are the Burrowing owl and Gopher Tortoises. Both of these species are protected under state and federal law and it’s prohibited to harass, disturb their burrows or relocate them without a permit. We also occasionally find Ospreys, Barn Owls and Bats at our schools and ancillary facilities as well which are also protected in the state of Florida.
Owls are commonly found on our schools in southern Palm Beach County and they spend most of their time on the ground where their sandy brown plumage provides camouflage and they build their nests underground to protect themselves from natural predators such as snakes and hawks. They love to nest in athletic fields where they have a full 360 degree view of predators. These owls are indigenous to the southeast of the United States. ECS encourages schools to take advantage of these beautiful creatures and their unique habitat by using them as an educational tool.
A"weedwhacker" should be used for lawn maintenance on top of the burrows instead of heavy equipment which can cause them to collapse. Weeds at the opening of the burrow should be hand pulled to allow access to the burrow.
Gopher Tortoises are considered a threatened species and are found in well drained sandy soil areas with low growing vegetation on some of our school properties. These tortoises also live underground and sometimes their existing burrows are used by the owls (not at the same time). They must be relocated before any land clearing may occur, so ECS has obtained permits in the past for construction activities. For more information about Gopher Tortoises, see the useful links sidebar.
Discovery of Protected Species
Any discovery of animals that are (suspected) endangered/protected species should be reported to ECS immediately. Permits for relocation (where appropriate)will be applied for. ECS will either relocate upon receipt of the permit or will contract with the appropriate consultant to do so.
- Protected Species Map on District Properties
- Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission- Burrowing Owls
- Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission-Gopher Tortoises
- Burrowing Owl Conservation Network
- Gopher Tortoise Council
- Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission- Ospreys
- Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission-Barn Owls
- Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission-Bats
Other Protected Species
Big Brown Bat