The study areas were selected prior to the participation of the owl team. They were selected on the basis of a variety of criteria that reflected the multiple elements of the SNAMP project. The study area selection team believed that owls would be present on the northern study area. However, they did not know how many owls would be present on the study area because current information on owl territory status was lacking.

The results of our first field season gave us concern that the study area was not large enough to contain a sufficient number of owl territories. We surveyed the entire SNAMP study area, as well as a 1.5-mile buffer zone around the SNAMP study area. We found that only 50% of the designated Protected Activity Centers (PACs) within the owl survey area were occupied in 2007. The location of owl PACs were obtained from the California Dept. of Fish and Game prior to the 2007 field season.

Prior to deciding on our current owl study design, we noted the lack of road access on the study area, which would severely hinder the use of radio telemetry. A long-term radio telemetry study would also require multiple recaptures of individual owls to replace batteries, which could prove to be infeasible if the owls became increasingly wary of being captured. Most importantly, the use of radio telemetry would be cost-prohibitive in terms of the overall SNAMP budget.

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