Gawkers near nesting owls in Colorado Springs anger neighbors

By: Kassondra Cloos
May 3, 2013 Updated: May 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm
photo - Signs and rope warn gawkers away from a tree that's home to nesting owls in northwestern Colorado Springs Friday. (Kassondra Cloos / The Gazette)
Signs and rope warn gawkers away from a tree that's home to nesting owls in northwestern Colorado Springs Friday. (Kassondra Cloos / The Gazette) 

Spectators have ignored warnings and continued to harass a family of great horned owls nesting near the Walgreens at Centennial Boulevard and Flying W Ranch Road, neighbors say.

A neighbor roped off a small area to try to keep people away, but Walgreens manager Blaine Withers said it's not working.

'I just kicked a guy out of the tree, ' he said Friday.

The ropes went up Thursday night after Walgreens put up a sign asking people to respect the owls' space. But parents have continued to send their kids up the tree and other have poked the nest with poles to try to make the birds fly out, Withers said.

Dennis McAfee, who lives on Capstone Court near the Walgreens, said he put stakes in the ground and wrapped duct tape around them to try to deter the dozens of people putting themselves and the owls in danger.

McAfee said people have put their children up on their shoulders so they can get closer to the nest.

He's tried to scare them away by telling them that the owls could swoop down and seriously hurt them or carry away their children.

But people have gotten angry in response. McAfee said he's been sickened by people's lack of respect for laws and wildlife.

''This is America, I can be where I want,' ' he said people have shouted at him. 'I just really didn't understand the empowerment of the people, that they just feel they're empowered to do whatever they want. '

Michael Seraphin, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said it's a bit of a stretch to say owls would carry away children, but they do have sharp talons and could cause injury.

'They seem to be accustomed to the people who are watching them, ' he said. 'But there's always that potential that they could be dangerous to people and that they would swoop down. '

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