CNM blocks off part of campus to protect nesting owls

The Central New Mexico Community College Westside campus has some new visitors. It’s leading the college to block off part of the campus and officials insist it’s for safety.

Students agree it almost looks like a crime scene with all the caution tape when in actuality, the school is trying to keep students and staff away from all things owls.

“My first thought was someone probably got attacked,” CNM student Maria Elena Martinez said. “I walk underneath the trees and I check to see if they’re there and they’ve just looked at me a dozen times.”

“It looks kind of negative but it’s for a super good reason,” student Jake Nowlin said.

The tape and orange cones block the area with a warning to beware of nesting owls.

“It’s only the father that’s super aggressive is what I’ve heard,” Nowlin said of the two owls.

CNM could not confirm any attacks or injuries but said it put up the signs and tape to protect the Great Horned Owls. The school can’t move them because the birds are a protected species, according to the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

On Tuesday, KRQE News 13 cameras saw one owl and three eggs.

“They are huge and they are gorgeous animals,” Martinez said.

People on campus say they’ve seen the proud parents over the past few years and that it’s fun to watch the birds again while maintaining space as to not spook them. 

“I’ve seen the father owl. He’s up there,” Nowlin said. “That’s why they put the cardboard in front of the windows because he’s really protective of his young.”

A security guard said once the eggs hatch, the school plans to block off more of the area because that’s when the mom and dad will start hunting for food for their babies.

The National Wildlife Federation says the Great Horned Owl is one of the most common owl species in the Americas. It’s identifiable by feathers on its head that look like horns.

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