It took 2 years of preparation but the Upper Nicola Band, the Burrowing Owl conservation society, local species-at-risk biologists, and the federal interdepartmental Recovery Fund are excited to implement the reintroduction of Burrowing Owls back into Nicola territory! Owls are deeply woven into the culture of the Upper Nicola and Interior Salish peoples. They are considered the guardian spirits for hunters and warriors and are spirit carriers and guides to other worlds
Chief Harvey McLeod, from Upper Nicola had some inspiring words on the subject, stating:
"the culture that has always given us strength and supported us is based on coexistence with the land that has always sustained us. We must give it support in turn. It means we have the responsibility to be stewards of the world around us, and to reclaim, where we can what we have lost, and to rebuild what we are losing."
In preparation for the release of the first set of owls, upper Nicola field techs and cultural advisors helped to survey the band's eight reserves and identify suitable habitat. Community members helped with the construction of nestboxes and creating artificial burrows. These burrows will be home to the first three breeding pairs of Owls, which were hatched and raised by volunteers of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC.
The goal of both the Upper Nicola Band and the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society is to reserve the continuing decline of the Burrowing owl populations within Canada. This can be accomplished from the efforts this project aims to establish by maintaining a self-perpetual, well-distributed population of owls in British Colombia. Upper Nicola Band species at risk program is also committed to building capacity, increase knowledge of culturally and ecologically important wildlife and encourage community-based, hands on conservation.
This is exciting news as this will be the first ever release of Burrowing Owls on land that is controlled by First Nations. We look forward to hearing how these animals do after their release. To learn more about the topic you can check out the Upper Nicola website or the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC.