The Wilderness Committee and Sierra Legal Defence Fund renewed calls for provincial endangered species legislation after discovering an active Ainsworth Lumber Co. logging operation felling timber within one kilometre of the nest of the most successful breeding pair of spotted owls known to exist in Canada. The site, known as Enterprise Creek, is near Lillooet, BC.
After receiving a previous letter of complaint in 2004 from the Wilderness Committee, Ainsworth had ceased logging in the territory of the Enterprise Creek spotted owl pair.
However, Ainsworth’s resumption of logging this month could be the final blow to the owls, said spotted owl biologist Andy Miller. “Ainsworth has already logged this owl’s territory so heavily, it is a bit of a mystery how the owls will continue to survive. For Ainsworth to continue logging is patently unethical when we have only a few pairs of owls left in BC, and none as reproductively successful as the Enterprise Owls,” said Miller.
Each breeding pair of spotted owls requires an area of about three thousand hectares to raise their young. Only four of the eight pairs produced young last year. The Lillooet pair of owls has produced young three years in a row, a record for BC.
“The BC government and the Canadian government are utterly failing this most endangered bird in Canada.” said Miller. “We video-taped the logging and now our only hope is that the public will see it, speak up and demand that the provincial government end plans for any further logging in the area.”
WCWC also has rare, close up video footage of two spotted owl chicks born at the Enterprise Creek site in 2004.
The spotted owl is Canada’s most endangered bird species. Government biologists estimate that 500 pairs existed in the oldgrowth forests of southwest BC before clearcut logging. By 1990 only about one hundred pairs of spotted owls remained. Today, as a result of the ongoing commercial logging of their oldgrowth habitat there are only eight pairs known to be left.
Miller made his discovery while surveying spotted owl sites in the Lower Mainland, looking for recent damage caused by commercial logging operations, which is the biggest single threat to the owl in Canada. Mr. Miller is familiar with the locations of the remaining spotted owl sites through his work as a past member of the Spotted Owl Recovery Team.
“If the provincial government had endangered species legislation, this logging wouldn’t have been permitted under the law. The spotted owl just moved one step closer to extinction in Canada,” said Devon Page, staff lawyer at Sierra Legal Defense. Page spoke on behalf of a coalition of BC groups who are fighting to have effective endangered species legislation passed in BC, the province with the most species at risk.