The Spotted Owl

The Spotted Owl occurs in the Pacific Northwest region of North America from northern California to British Columbia. The southwest mainland portion of British Columbia is the northern extent of the owl's range. Spotted Owl populations have declined significantly across their range, with the most pronounced declines towards the northern parts of the owl's distribution, including British Columbia. Causes and contributors to declines include loss and fragmentation of habitat, and more recently, competition from Barred Owls.

Over the last decade, British Columbia has managed more than 363,000 hectares for Spotted Owls by fully protecting ~182,000 hectares in parks and protected areas and managing ~181,000 hectares of provincial forest to maintain owl habitat. Despite this strict forest management regime, Spotted Owl populations in B.C. and elsewhere have continued to decline.

In 2005, the Species at Risk Coordination Office (SaRCO), Integrated Land Management Bureau, coordinated the recovery planning for Spotted Owl.

On April 28, 2006, British Columbia announced its Spotted Owl Recovery Action Plan based on the work of the Canadian Spotted Owl Recovery Team. The three components included:

  • Initiating measures to re-build Spotted Owl populations. The precise actions around owl population enhancement will be advised by an independent expert population enhancement science team;
  • Evaluating and revise existing Spotted Owl management areas to ensure they better protect owls; and
  • Continuing detailed, site-by-site analysis in consultation with Environment Canada to provide an appropriate amount of habitat protection in areas where the 2005 survey reported Spotted Owls.

Progress on the April 2006 Spotted Owl Recovery Action Plan includes:

  • Establishment of nine wildlife habitat areas (~23,000ha) in June 2006 to fully protect owl sites known to be occupied in 2005;
  • Localized assessment of existing Spotted Owl management areas for potential boundary revisions;
  • Establishment of an independent science team, the Spotted Owl Population Enhancement Team (SOPET), to examine the feasibility of captive breeding.

The SOPET's final report (PDF 401KB) was submitted to government on March 30th, 2007. The B.C. government is reviewing the options put forth in the SOPET report.

NOTE: In fall 2008, SaRCO was transferred from the Integrated Land Management Bureau to the Ministry of Environment (MoE) in order to transition the coordination role to the MoE. At the MoE, staff will continue to move forward with the role of fully coordinating delivery of Mountain Caribou and Spotted Owl, and Marbled Murrelet recovery initiatives, although SaRCO will no longer exist as a distinct entity.

Spotted Owl Recovery Implementation Plan Documents

Related Links/Resources