Before industrial logging in British Columbia, there were an estimated 500 pairs of spotted owls living in the old growth forests southwest B.C. Today, there are only three adult owls, including one breeding pair, left in the wild.
This dramatic decline led Ecojustice to send a letter to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in October 2020, demanding he step in to implement emergency order protections under the Species at Risk Act.
On behalf of Wilderness Committee, Ecojustice argued that decades of provincial mismanagement had left spotted owls without legal protection and decimated the old-growth forests where they once lived.
“Without federal emergency action,” Ecojustice lawyers Kegan Pepper-Smith said in a press release, “There is a high likelihood that this species will disappear from the wild in the near future.”
In February 2021, the provincial and federal governments responded to Ecojustice’s calls to protect spotted owls by announcing a halt to all logging within the forests of Spô’zêm First Nation territory, specifically the Spuzzum and Utzlius watersheds, that are home to the last known wild spotted owls in Canada. The logging moratorium is scheduled to last a minimum of one year while a more permanent solution is negotiated.