Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program
The northern spotted owl (NSO) is one of Canada’s most endangered species. Its entire Canadian range occurs in southwestern British Columbia. Though historic estimates suggest that as many as 1,000 spotted owls occurred in the province pre-European settlement, currently fewer than 30 individuals remain in Canada, with over 80% of those owls residing at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Program (NSOBP) in Langley, BC.
The primary threat to spotted owls is habitat loss and fragmentation of old growth forests. Additional threats include competition from the similar barred owl that has invaded the spotted owl’s range in recent decades.
The NSOBP began in 2007 with a founding population of six adult spotted owls. As of Fall 2020, there are currently 28 spotted owls residing at the breeding facility, including seven breeding pairs. The NSOBP's initial target was to house 10 breeding pairs, and release 10-20 offspring each year for the next 15-20 years.
As this is the first and only breeding program for this species in the world, the team has had to overcome challenges to better understand the behaviours and husbandry techniques required to successfully breed this species.
The Program's mission is to prevent this species from becoming extirpated from Canada by breeding spotted owls in captivity to be released by the Province of British Columbia into protected habitat.