The discovery of a nest of protected burrowing owls has brought work on a trail extension in Las Cruces to a screeching halt.
The 4.5 mile extension of the pedestrian and bike path bike was expected to be done by this month but the discovery forced city officials to stop work immediately.
Burrowing owns are considered a protected species in New Mexico and are listed as endangered in Canada.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that assistant city manager Brian Denmark says New Mexico State University biologists are evaluating the site. They will tell the city when the birds' young are old enough that the nest can safely be disturbed so the path can be completed.
The tiny owls nest in abandoned burrows dug by animals such as prairie dogs.