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

The old Shielings Motel is being demolished for an eventual roundabout to reduce congestion between Skaha Lake Road and South Main Street. The city is also hoping to have affordable seniors housing there too. (Brennan Phillips - Penticton Western News)
Affordable seniors housing coming to Shielings Motel site in Penticton

The city hopes to turn a portion of the site into affordable housing

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

Penticton Christian School. (Facebook)
UPDATE: COVID-19 exposure at Penticton independent school after school program

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

Elijah Beauregard, 16, was stabbed in downtown Kelowna on June 27, 2019. He died of his wounds three days later in hospital. His family is raising money to put a memorial bench at his favourite skatepark in Penticton.
Young woman charged in stabbing death of Penticton teen pleads guilty

The teen, who can’t be named, will appear in Kelowna Supreme Court Tuesday

B.C. wineries are open for indoor tasting despite new provincial health regulations. Photo- 
50th Parallel Winery, Instagram.
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
Suspicion of ‘fake news media’ makes rally uncomfortable for Salmon Arm event photographer

More than 300 people counted at city park for ‘Rally For Food Security’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Shayla, an 8-pound black and grey Havanese, was stolen from outside a store on Banks Road on Saturday. (Contributed)
Stolen pup located, Kelowna RCMP confirms

Mounties said on April 12 that Shayla, the 8-pound, black and grey Havanese dog, has been located safe and sound

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read