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

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

The Primary Urgent Care Centre on Martin Street opened on March 31, 2021. Interior Health is asking for funding from the Okanagan Similkameen Hospital District for the centre. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Interior Health seeks another shot at primary care funding

IH has sent a request for $1 million to the Okanagan Similkameen Hospital District

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Interior Health announces 89 cases of COVID-19 in the region

Currently, there are 900 active cases in the region

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

A dumpster was on fire behind a residential complex in downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Dumpster fire extinguished in downtown Penticton

There has been a string of dumpster fires lately

Skogie’s Express Tunnel Wash on Anderson Way in Vernon. (Submitted photo)
Lawsuit dismissed after vehicle damaged while inside Okanagan car wash

Civil Resolution Tribunal dismisses driver’s claim following a collision inside Skogie’s car wash in Vernon

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

(Mayor Cindy Fortin - Peachland)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

A shop up on Grand Oro Road near Twin Lakes burned down on Monday. (Facebook)
Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

Most Read