Idaho Barn Owls need your help

Southern Idaho has the highest documented road mortality for Barn Owls in the world, and you may be able to help researchers solve this mystery.

Boise State University, Montana State University and the Idaho Department of Transportation are working together to better understand why Barn Owls are being killed at such an alarming rate along the Snake River interstate corridor.

Researchers are currently conducting systematic searches along Interstate-84 and I-86 from Boise to Pocatello. “If you regularly drive a route alone I-84 or I-86 or other routes in ITD District’s 3, 4, 5 or 6, you are invited to become a citizen scientist, explained Angela Kociolek, with Montana State University.  “Having citizen scientist involved with this project will help expand the number of roads surveyed for Barn Owl road kills.”

Between July 2004 and June 2006, BSU researchers surveyed a 154-mile stretch of southern Idaho’s I-84 using systematic searches every two weeks. Their results showed that for every 62 miles, cars and trucks were killing nearly 600 barn owls. 

Kociolek said there is no compensation available for the citizen scientists, but there is the satisfaction that these volunteer surveys may help save the lives of many barn owls.

Volunteers commit to driving a route in southern Idaho at least four times between summer 2014 and spring 2015 (preferably a route that is driven regularly). They record all the dates and times driving, even if no carcasses are observed. They record or report the number and locations of all carcasses promptly after each trip. And finally, volunteers agree to not stop or pick up carcasses.

To get involved and receive more detailed information, including a Citizen Scientist Packet, contact Montana State University’s Angela Kociolek by email at

Published 6-13-14