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New Year’s Wishes for BC’s Owls at Risk

Jan 09 2013

In December, the owls took over downtown Vancouver. As I was shopping for Christmas decorations, I noticed that cute owl faces had appeared everywhere in shops, on coffee mugs, fake Christmas trees, cushions, diaries, key chains, and jewelry. Some companies even have adopted owls for their logo.

One day, I found myself literally surrounded by owls in an elegant home decor shop on Davie Street. It was almost surreal to feel all these lifeless eyes on me. I asked a salesperson why owls were so trendy this year. “People are into owls,” he simply replied.

If people are so much into owls, it may be time to realize that British Columbia’s owls are in trouble, and that they deserve more than our kitchens, living rooms, or Christmas trees. They need a home of their own.

At least eight species of owls are at risk in the province, and that includes barn owls, western screech owls, short-eared owls, northern spotted owls, northern saw-whet owls (brooksi subspecies), northern pygmy-owl (swarthi subspecies), flammulated owls, and burrowing owls.

A century ago, 500 pairs of spotted owls called old-growth forests home in southwestern mainland British Columbia, the only place in Canada in which they are found. Unfortunately after decades of logging in their habitat, northern spotted owls are now close to extinction in Canada with less than twelve owls left in the wild today.

The barn owl is another species that has experienced population declines in BC because of the degradation, loss, and fragmentation of habitat. It has become harder for the owls to find suitable roosting and nesting sites, and they have to fly greater distances to find food. Road mortality is also a significant risk. With urban expansion and changes in agricultural practices, the owls have nowhere to go.

A recent Vancouver Sun article reported that as of the end of 2012, a record 485 raptors including snowy owls from the Arctic, long-eared and short-eared owls, have been brought to the OWL rehabilitation centre in South Delta. Habitat loss due to urban development and conversion of traditional farmland have reduced prey availability for owls and other raptors.

British Columbia is one of only two provinces in Canada that does not have an endangered species law to protect owls and other 1,900 species that are in trouble primarily because of habitat loss and degradation.

I love owls, but I don’t need to drink my coffee in an owl-shaped mug in the morning. My wish for the New Year is that owls are allowed to thrive in the wild and are given the species at risk legislation they deserve to protect their habitat

-- Isabelle Groc for the Wilderness Committee --


Ways you can help BC's Species at Risk:

Take action and sign a petition to ask for endangered species legislation

Support the Wilderness Committee's species at risk campaign: adopt a species at risk or purchase a BC species gift package.

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Your Comments

  • Comment #777

    It is coincidental about; I recently decided to sell jewelry san Francisco in my local shop, on the way I saw beautifully crafted toys of owl, the shopkeeper urges me to buy one, as he telling me that it was the very last stock, so decided to have one.

  • Comment #778

    I wish for that owl in the picture in my dining room, in the last Christmas when I was going through my local store to sell jewelry san francisco city, on my pathways, as I watched beautifully crafted owl toy’s are hanging around in the local flea market.

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