Save the Burrowing Owl from Extinction

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Migratory Burrowing Owl populations have declined almost 95% over the course of 30 years. This species needs our help!


Canada's Burrowing Owl is in trouble, and several factors are contributing to this species' loss of life.

Populations of Burrowing Owls are declining as their habitats are eroded by human interference, and pesticides and poisons used to kill prairie dog colonies leech into their environment. Burrowing owls are also at risk of predation from coyotes, birds of prey, and feral cats and dogs1.

Because of these habitat intrusions, the burrowing owl is endangered. In fact, the Burrowing Owl population has declined almost 95% over the course of 30 years. Despite their protected status, Burrowing Owls are often displaced and their burrows destroyed during the development process2.

The Canadian population of burrowing owls was reduced by 90% from 1990 to 2000, and by a further 64% between 2005 and 2015. In recent years small numbers have been counted in British Columbia and Manitoba due largely to captive breeding and release programs. The loss of grassland habitat and suitable burrows has been compounded by a reduction in prey populations, and concurrent increases in predation, vehicle collisions, expansion of renewable energy, and severe weather events3.

While the majority of the range of the Burrowing Owl in North America is based in the United States, around 4% of the wild population is found in Western Canada, where the subspecies Athene cunicularia hypugaea is listed as "endangered" at the National level4.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 1995 declared the Burrowing Owl "endangered," meaning that it may soon no longer exist in the wild in Canada. The Burrowing Owl has since been designated "at risk" in all four western Canadian provinces and is protected under provincial wildlife acts from capture, harassment, trade, killing, or nest disturbance. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species also protects the Burrowing Owl5.

Burrowing Owls are considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to be a Bird of Conservation Concern at the national level, in three USFWS regions, and in nine Bird Conservation Regions. At the state level, Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Minnesota, Threatened in Colorado, and as a Species of Concern in Arizona, California, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming2.

The quirky and adorable Burrowing Owl needs our help. Sign the petition and urge the Nature Conservancy of Canada to continue to encourage the proliferation of Canada's beautiful Burrowing Owl.

More on this issue:

  1. The National Wildlife Federation, "Burrowing Owl."
  2. Urban Bird Foundation & Burrowing Owl Conservation Network (2019), "Burrowing Owl Facts."
  3. Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (2 January 2018), "Alberta Wildlife Recoveries: Burrowing Owl."
  4. Government of Canada (29 November 2019), "Burrowing Owl."
  5. Canadian Wildlife Federation (2003), "Burrowing Owl."
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The Petition:

Dear Nature Conservancy of Canada:

I am writing to ask that you continue to address the growing problems that are threatening Canada's Burrowing Owl population.

The Burrowing Owl is now endangered, its population having been reduced by 95% in the past 30 years. This is because of a few different factors: habitat erosion due to human interference, predators, harmful pesticides, and the fallout from deadly poisons used to kill prairie dog colonies.

These unique and beautiful creatures are struggling to survive and your work to preserve their habitat and existence is admirable. Please continue to fight for the majestic Burrowing Owl!

Sincerely,

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