Bodies of Dead Owls Litter I-84
For some reason I imagine this looking like a like a scene from The Birds?
According to Channel 2, two Boise women spotted over fifty dead owls on their way from to the Treasure Valley from Twin Falls over the weekend. The women originally thought the road kill they were seeing were chickens, but then realized the feathers had markings that didn't quite look like a chicken's. The stripes on the feathers helped them realize the dead animals were actually owls. There were so many of them laying on a 20-mile stretch of I-84 near Jerome, that it looked like they'd fallen out of the sky.
So is something poisoning the owls? Is there some sort of plague running through the owl population? Not exactly. An Idaho Fish and Game spokesman told Channel 2 that it's more the fact that the owls are hungry. They'll often hunt for mice on the side of I-84. Drivers going 85 miles an hour don't necessarily always see the owls or have time to react to avoid hitting the owls.
Fish and Game doesn't have an official report of how many dead owls are on that eerie stretch of freeway but one Boise State student took a deeper look into it.
Erin Arnold wrote a thesis about owl deaths on I-84. In the introduction of her research, Arnold says I-84 in Southern Idaho has tone of the highest roadway mortality rates for barn owls in the world. She worked to identify which parts of the interstate had the highest morality rates, what factors attracted the owls to the road and how dead owl hot spots have changed over time.
Her research won a 2015 Best Student Poster award from the Idaho Chapter of the Wildlife Society. The Intermountain Bird Observatory to work for Foundation Mires in Spain. She helped fount fall migration across the Strait of Gibraltar.