Image courtesy of BC Wildife Park Staff
The BC Wildlife Park is an active member of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC. Our goal is to achieve population increase, habitat improvement and public education ultimately leading to self supporting Burrowing owl populations in BC's grasslands. The program is a partnership that includes BC Wildlife Park staff, the Ministry of Environment (MOE), volunteers and landowners in the Kamloops Region.
Burrowing owls were extirpated from the British Columbia grasslands prior to 1980 (extirpated means extinct in one area, but can be found in another area of the world). The BC Wildlife Park's participation in the BC Burrowing Owl Recovery Program commenced in 1990 with the construction of the Burrowing Owl Captive Breeding Facility. Owls raised in our facility were released when they were about a year old. Release sites throughout the Thompson Okanagan region were carefully selected. About 100 young owls were released each year.
In 2002, a new Burrowing Owl Recovery Centre was constructed at the British Columbia Wildlife Park. The new facility is capable of producing over 100 juvenile owls for release each year. The design of the Burrowing Owl Recovery Centre was developed by staff at the British Columbia Wildlife Park. The facility and program is so successful that it has been copied by other facilities in North America.
In 2004, the BC Wildlife Park received an award of excellence from CAZA (Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums) for our captive breeding program. Today, according to the National Burrowing Owl Team, the British Columbia Wildlife Park is a leader in captive breeding of Burrowing Owls for release and in fact, is the most successful breeder of Burrowing Owls in North America.
Since 1991, the British Columbia Wildlife Park has released well over 1500 owls.
Our Education Department offers interpretive programs to promote awareness of the Burrowing Owls. Our Burrowing Owl ambassador, Quetemie7 (pronounced KEH-tem-mee), is very well know in the community, and helps to promote the fundamental message that we can all do something to preserve and protect endangered grassland species and their habitats!
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