50 Acres Adjacent to Thetis Lk Protected Forever
- Created: Thursday, 08 November 2012 12:48
It was 4 am in late December, just before Christmas. I was bleary eyed, tired, and shivering uncontrollably. It was difficult to recall exactly why I had insisted on dragging my wife and infant son to the Highlands of Greater Victoria in the dark, rather than sleeping at home in a warm bed, and I was somewhat concerned that I might be required to explain my actions soon. I was fortunate this time though – I was rescued shortly by the gentle “ho-ho-hohoho…” bouncing ball-like call of a Western Screech-Owl; a call I hadn’t heard in years. The hope of seeing or hearing an owl was what the motivation for our family’s early morning sojourn, and the pay-off was worth the lost sleep.
The Highlands’ forested hills are one the few places on south Vancouver Island you can still hear the once wide-spread Western Screech-Owl’s (Megascops kennicottii kennicottii )call, if you’re lucky. The loss of old forest habitat has taken a heavy toll on this small owl. Earlier this year, the Western Screech-Owl’s status was “upgraded” to Threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, due to “serious declines in the southern part of its range in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and the Gulf Islands areas, where it has nearly disappeared over the last 10 to 15 years.” (COSEWIC, 2012) Unfortunately, the Screech-Owl is hardly unique. Many other species, including bats, birds, frogs, and turtles, share the Screech-Owl’s habitat, and are suffering the same fate.