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

Winter driving conditions returned to the Coquihalla Highway on April 10. (ICBC image)
Coquihalla motorists warned of fresh snow

Five to 10 cm of snow is expected today for the mountain highway.

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

School District 83 trustees are leaning towards an option in the school district’s Long Range Facilities Plan that favours making Salmon Arm Secondary’s Sullivan campus and Jackson campus (pictured) both Grade 9-12 schools. (Google maps image)
Letter: Two high school option for Salmon Arm will create ‘have, have not’ situation

Writer concerned with E5 option, says transparent talk about implications needed

Left, Elena Bruns (2015 Rapattack Junior recruit/current Rapattack staff) and Leah Nash (2019 Rapattack Junior recruit/current Rapattack staff) in a helicopter on the Eagle Bluff Fire, August 2019. (Kamloops Fire Centre photo)
Salmon Arm students stick with wildfire fighting after junior Rapattack program

Junior Fire Crew program partners with Salmon Arm Secondary, develops students’ love for job

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Penticton Christian School. (Facebook)
COVID-19 exposure at South Okanagan independent school

The exposures are the latest in a quickly growing list in the Interior

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Vernon Secondary School. (Google Maps)
Case of COVID-19 at North Okanagan high school

VSS exposure announced late Friday, April 9

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Bart and Tracey Larson enjoying a Begbie Cream Ale. The couple have been together for 40 years. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
The art of really good beer: Revelstoke brewery celebrates 25 years

Mt. Begbie Brewery owners Bart and Tracey Larson reflect on their company’s history

Most Read