A male, disabled spotted owl from California, seen in an undated handout photo, arrived at a B.C. breeding facility in hopes to mate with some of the captive owls here to strengthen the gene pool. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

A male, disabled spotted owl from California, seen in an undated handout photo, arrived at a B.C. breeding facility in hopes to mate with some of the captive owls here to strengthen the gene pool. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

B.C.’s northern spotted owl breeding facility welcomes disabled California relative

Cali, 4, brings the potential to help produce stronger offspring if he finds a mate among at the facility

A northern spotted owl found injured near San Francisco has arrived at a British Columbia breeding facility where the adult male is expected to find a mate and potentially contribute to a strengthened gene pool for the threatened species.

It took months of logistical work to bring the owl nicknamed Cali to the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program in Langley after rehab stints in California and Oregon, says Jasmine McCulligh, a spotted owl specialist and breeding program co-ordinator.

“We’ve been anxiously awaiting him for literally a year,” she said in an interview. “He’s just going to be so important to the breeding program. It gives his life some purpose. Instead of just sitting in a aviary, he’s going to contribute to the future of his species.”

Four-year-old Cali brings the potential to help produce stronger offspring if he finds a mate among the female spotted owls at the Langley facility, McCulligh said.

“Genetically, Cali is extremely important,” she said.

There have been reports of wild northern spotted owls from Washington state being observed in B.C., but never spotted owls from California, which means Cali will bring new genes to the province, McCulligh said.

California marks the southern range for northern spotted owls. Old-growth forests near Lillooet in B.C.’s Interior are the northern reach for the owls, she said.

“In theory, based on biology and biological theories, his genetics paired with a genetically distinct individual, their offspring will be very fit and good to breed with other owls,” said McCulligh.

She said the owl was found injured in a forest near San Francisco and as a result of the injury ended up losing his left eye.

The loss of the eye does not impede his ability to find a mate and produce offspring, McCulligh said.

“He’s as heathy as a horse,” she said. “He’s just got a little bit of a vision problem. He’s able to fly and feed himself just fine and his genetics aren’t going to be affected by the lack of an eye.”

Last month, the federal government and Spuzzum First Nation announced a yearlong logging delay in forests where northern spotted owls live.

The government and Spuzzum First Nation, located about 150 kilometres east of Vancouver, said they will work on a spotted owl recovery program.

READ MORE: Year-long logging halt aims to bolster northern spotted owl habitat near Hope

The B.C. government has said previously there were at one time up to 1,000 spotted owls in provincial forests, but habitat loss and competition from the barred owl reduced their wild population to less than a dozen.

Protection of spotted owls has fuelled decades-long disputes between environmental groups and the forest industry as their future is often tied to saving old-growth forests where they live.

McCulligh said there are now 29 spotted owls, including Cali, at the B.C. breeding program facility, but none of the owls are ready to be released into the wild.

She said the facility is awaiting the arrival of this year’s spotted owl eggs in the coming days after only two successful births last spring.

Cali’s arrival earlier this month was too late for this year’s mating season, but he should be ready next year, said McCulligh.

It’s also taken the California owl a bit of time to adjust to his new home, she said.

“He’s never heard spotted owls like he’s hearing them here,” said McCulligh. “There’s 28 spotted owls he’s hearing on a daily basis, which is brand new to him.”

READ MORE: Baby owls are on the way at Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program in Langley

— By Dirk Meissner in Victoria.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

LangleyWildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The former C&C Wood Products mill will begin producing products again later this month, under new ownership. (Observer file photo)
Williams Lake-owned company to restart production at bankrupt specialty mill in Quesnel

President of Kandola Forest Products says he expects to fill 90 full-time jobs by end of year

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

Most Read