September 4, 2006

BC action plan will aid recovery of endangered owl species

VICTORIA, BC-An action plan being implemented by the British Columbia government to protect the endangered northern spotted owl includes halting timber harvesting activities in areas of the BC interior currently occupied by this owl species. The long-term population goal is to increase the number of owls to at least 250 adult birds. Recovery of this species is considered technically and biologically feasible since habitat is currently available and opportunities exist to improve future habitat conditions. The northern spotted owl is among the most studied, high-profile owl species in the world because of its close association with old growth forests and the impact of urbanization, timber harvesting and mineral extraction in the Northwestern United States and in British Columbia. It is estimated that there remain between 3,000 and 6,000 potential breeding pairs in the world. Canada is at the northern range of the spotted owl and the species is listed as "endangered" under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). A BC survey in 2005 found 22 surviving owls, down from an estimated 200 in 1991. Habitat loss, competition from barred owls and other environmental factors have led to population declines. Environment Canada provides advice to the province on measures to protect habitat and the species, and will continue to co-operate with provincial officials while monitoring the progress of the recovery plan to ensure the northern spotted owl population is effectively protected and afforded the best opportunity to recover. More information is available on the SARA public registry, www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

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