Video: Digging in for burrowing owls in the Okanagan/Nicola Valley

They came, they saw and they dug — then they dug a little more.

About 25 people armed with picks, shovels and other earth-moving utensils ventured out onto a large tract of private land southeast of Cawston to help some pint-sized critters in their comeback attempt.

The recent outing was the second of three working sessions which are part of a pilot project of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada in conjunction with the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of B.C.

Related: Volunteers who give a hoot wanted for burrowing owl work party

The final work party is Saturday at the Quilchena Resort near Merritt from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and there are still plenty of places left.

Those wanting to help can register at http://www.wwf.ca/what_you_can_do/be_a_wildlifer.cfm##bc

“We were only expecting 10 or 15 people for this one (Cawston) but it really surged the last couple of days and I think everyone is having a good time,” said BOCS executive director Lauren Meads after the group had finished lunch and were headed back out into the field.

“We’ve installed four burrows and we’re working on our last two and that’s hopefully going to provide nesting opportunities for some more owls in the future.”

It’s estimated the work, replacing and repairing the man-made dens, done by the volunteers on this day will help more than 300 owls over the next two decades.

“It’s been really good with WWF, we’ve been able to highlight all of our major areas and to reach out to people who may not have helped before,” added Meads.

Helping out the volunteers on this particular day was Devika Shah, WWF senior manager who made the trip out from Ontario to get a first hand look at how the project was going.

“We got involved in this to see what kind of role we could play to help more Canadians get involved with hands-on conservation,” said Shah, taking a break from her digging.

“Our Living Planet Report released a year ago showed that over 50 per cent of monitored species that are in decline and they’ve declined 83 per cent in the last 40 years.

“So if we don’t have a large constituency of Canadians helping, partly in doing things like this, but also speaking up for nature in a variety of ways, if that doesn’t happen then these numbers are not going to turn around.”

Helping out was Stephen Neumann an employee of the society’s namesake Burrowing Owl Estate Winery but his reason’s for taking part go beyond his day job.

“A love of nature,” he said about volunteering.

“These beautiful little birds need our help and I finally got the chance to be able to come it’s not always easy to find the time but when you do it’s well worth it.”

Related: Down and dirty for South Okanagan burrowing owls

Allen Hartman and his wife read about the need for volunteers in the Western News.

“My wife said they are doing this today and she said; ‘I think we should go,’ and we’re retired and volunteering is something that we really like doing,” said Hartman.

“She really likes animals and it’s a really good cause.”

And those words were music to Shaw’s ears: “We need people to be part of this equation.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter

Executive director Lauren Meads and Pluto of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society. Mark Brett/Western News
Pluto, the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society education owl. Mark Brett/Western News
Volunteers head out to the den sites on private land near Cawston where burrowing owls nest. Mark Brett/Western News
Devika Shah of the World Wildlife Fund Canada shovels some of the dirt from an existing den. Mark Brett/Western News
Volunteer Allen Hartman helps work mates with the removal of an old den. Mark Brett/Western News
Volunteers work to create a new den for returning burrowing owls near Cawston. Mark Brett/Western News

Just Posted

Okanagan weather watch: Snow on the way

Flurries have been predicted for most of the Okanagan Valley today

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

Complex-care facility adds 60 long-term care beds

Mount Ida Mews hosts grand opening of second phase in Salmon Arm

UPDATE: One dead after crash on Highway 97A near Armstrong

Police have confirmed that one person is dead following an accident on Highway 97A Friday

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Rescued Kelowna skier shares appreciation of COSAR team

A skier was found out of bounds near Big White by Central Okanagan Search and Rescue

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Most Read