This handsome medium-sized owl, with its unusual dark-brown eyes, relies on old-growth forests to roost, nest and forage. In Canada, the endangered northern spotted owl is found only in the southwestern corner of mainland British Columbia.
Because of many decades of unsustainable destructive logging of old-growth forests, currently biologists have been able to locate only one spotted owl, an adult female residing in the unceded territory of the Nlaka'pamux community of Spô’zêm (Spuzzum) First Nation, located in the Fraser Canyon area near Hope BC.On February 25, 2021 the BC government announced a one year deferral of logging in Spô’zêm Nation territory - home to Canada's last surviving spotted owl still living in the wild. Since that time the logging deferral has been extended into 2025. The historic population of spotted owls is estimated to have been 500 pairs.
Because of dangerously low numbers of northern spotted owls in Canada, the Wilderness Committee is demanding:
Permanent strong protection for the valleys that surround the last wild spotted owl.
Protection of all remaining critical spotted owl forest habitat throughout their Canadian range in southwest BC.
Enough protected forest habitat to accommodate a self sustaining population of 250 spotted owls
Proper funding and staffing for BC's Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program
BC to release every year into protected critical habitat captive-bred spotted owls with enough on-the-ground staff support to allow for owl survival.
The recovery of spotted owls to 250 birds in a self sustaining population where captive release is no longer needed.
PDF Maps Showing Spotted Owl Critical Habitat Designations
In January 2023, the federal government finally released a draft amended recovery strategy that attempted to identify Spotted Owl critical habitat. Below is maps showing approximations of Spotted Owl "Core" and "Potential Future" critical habitat designations extracted from the recovery strategy map image. Both of these habitat designations together need to be identified as "Core" critical habitat and permanently protected to ensure the survival and recovery of the Spotted Owl.
This second map below is the same as the first one above, however it shows in addition the 295 approved and pending cut blocks (as of Feb 17, 2023) that overlap with the Spotted Owl approximate "Core" and "Potential Future" critical habitat extracted from the recovery strategy map image.
ArcGIS Online Map of New Spotted Owl Wildlife Habitat Areas in the Chilliwack, Cascades and Squamish/Sea to Sky Forest Districts
These Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHAs) provide stronger protection from logging for some of the important spotted owl sites in the bird's range area than the previous special management areas. However, only the green sub-areas have strong protection (known as "Long Term Owl Habitat Areas"), while the brown/orange sub-areas around Harrison Lake and Garibaldi park have no protection with special management status (known as "Managed Forest Habitat Areas") that allow for clearcuts with the odd tree left standing here and there. Also, some logging has been granted in some of the stronger protected WHAs, such as in the Chilliwack Lake WHA.
You can click on individual features on map to get more information on those features. You can toggle the legend, zoom in or change the basemap imagery with the buttons across the top. You can pan around map by clicking on map and dragging with your mouse. Click 'View Larger Map' below map to open the map in a larger ArcGIS Online map viewer window.
A WHODUNIT STORY: THE FINAL CHAPTER In my work to conserve wild nature spanning more than 30 years, I’ve witnessed the population of endangered spotted owls in Canada dwindle to almost nothing in southwest mainland BC, the only place in the country they’re found. Before the start of industrial...