Restoring Lillooet Sub-Population of Spotted Owls

Project Year: 2016-2017

View Provincial Database Record

Northern Spotted Owl: N. Wajmer

Project Lead

Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations


Coastal Region


Project Type

Species-Based Actions

FWCP Contribution


Action Plan Alignment

Bridge-Seton Species Action Plan

Project ID


Restoration of the Lillooet Sub-Populations of Spotted Owls

This project’s goal is to restore the Spotted Owl population within the northern extent of the Lillooet sub-population of Spotted Owls by conducting inventories to find and protect the remaining few of the species in the area. Captive-raised Spotted Owls will be released back into protected habitats. In addition, the removal of Barred Owls will be a priority action to reduce predation pressures and increase the abundance of Spotted Owl prey populations; and make high-quality habitats that were previously occupied by Barred Owls, available to Spotted Owls. Spotted Owl are considered an “Umbrella Species,” which are species selected for making conservation-related decisions, typically because protecting these species, indirectly protects the many other species that make up the ecological community of its habitat. Establishing a viable self-sustaining population of Spotted Owls within the Lillooet sub-population area may demonstrate more than simply restoring the species, but restoring the ecological community which it inhabits.

The removal of Barred Owls will cause localized impacts to this species, but is not expected to impact the status of the species (currently not at-risk in B.C.). However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the removal of Barred Owls may benefit other species that compete with, or are predated on, by Barred Owls. For example, Western Screech-Owls, Red-Listed species, have been detected following the removal of Barred Owls.

The following tasks illustrate how the target species Spotted Owls will benefit in the next 6-24 months:

Task 1. Annual inventories to detect and protect all remaining Spotted Owls within the Release Zone (includes watershed), where all detected birds will be radioed and monitored for health and fecundity.
Task 2. Release of captive-raised Spotted Owls to restore the Spotted Owl population within the Release Zone.
Task 3. Removal of Barred Owl within protected Spotted Owl habitat to increase the abundance of Spotted Owl prey populations and provide high quality habitats for Spotted Owls to occupy. Furthermore, removal of Barred Owls will reduce both competitive and predatory pressures on Spotted Owls, Western Screech-Owls, Northern Pygmy Owls and Northern Saw-whet Owls.

Final Report: Executive Summary

The population of the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) remains extremely low in British Columbia, at an estimate of 12 individual owls. Survey effort for spotted owls was conducted in the Lillooet sub-population portion of the range. The project spent $97,710.20, funded by $48,554.00 of Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) funds, and $51,700.00 of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) funds to conduct surveys via road, helicopter, and hiking to survey historical spotted owl territories. Call-playback surveys were conducted to detect spotted owls and barred owls and determine status of northern spotted owls. Other owl species were recorded including barred owl (Strix varia), great horned owls (Bubo virginianus), northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus), northern pygmy-owl, (Glaucidium gnoma), western screech-owls, (Megascops kennicottii), northern goshawks (Accipiter gentilis) and a flammulated owl (Psiloscops flammeolus). The project has progressed according to plan completing the proposed survey of the Lillooet sub-population including:

  • i) Spotted owl inventory over 54 nights at 17 study sites resulting in 235hrs (13,555 minutes) of total survey effort distributed over 881 stations. The inventory followed RISC protocol in the study area was achieved at 17 study sites. No spotted owls were detected during the inventory.
  • ii) Spotted owl inventories detected an estimated 41 barred owls in 13 of the 17 study sites.
  • iii) During 29 capture evenings 12 barred owls were removed from 5 study sites to enhance and protect habitat for spotted owls.
  • iv) 2,176 hours of ARU inventory time was recorded at 4 study sites. The ARU data resulted in 1 potential spotted owl detection. Furthermore additional ARU analysis detections noted the following species: barred owl, northern pygmy owl, western screech owl, northern saw-whet owl and great horned owls.
  • v) Mapped all survey information and occurrences and compiled data into master database for review. In the total study area, the 2016 owl database comprises 66 owl records.
  • vi) Final report.

Click the provincial database link below to read the full final report for this project.

View more about this project on the provincial database