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NORTHERN SPOTTED OWL (Strix occidentalis caurina)

Addendum 2




This proposed recovery strategy for the Northern Spotted Owl was prepared by the Canadian Spotted Owl Recovery Team as advice to the Province of British Columbia.  In keeping with their commitment under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Province of British Columbia has provided this document to Environment Canada.  Environment Canada has reviewed this recovery strategy, and accepts it as its proposed recovery strategy for the Northern Spotted Owl as authorized by section 44 of the Species at Risk Act.

This proposed recovery strategy represents science-based advice to government on measures viewed as necessary to recover the species. Success in the recovery of this species depends on the cooperation of many different constituencies and will not be achieved by Environment Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. Recovery actions to achieve the goals and objectives identified in this recovery strategy are subject to the priorities and budgetary constraints of participatory agencies and organizations.  Environment Canada will endeavour to support implementation of this strategy, given available resources and varying species at risk conservation priorities. The Minister will report on progress within five years.

Details of specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation of the species will be provided in recovery action plan(s).  The Minister, in cooperation with the Province of British Columbia, will take steps to ensure that, to the extent possible, Canadians directly affected by these measures will be consulted.



A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted by Environment Canada on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals.  The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of federal public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally-sound decision making. 

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The results of SEAs are often incorporated directly in strategies themselves and are also summarized here.

This recovery strategy will benefit the environment by promoting and enabling the recovery of the Northern Spotted Owl and the habitat upon which it depends.  The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species has been considered.  This strategic assessment concludes that this strategy will benefit the environment, including other species depending upon the same environment and will not entail any significant adverse effects. 


This recovery strategy, prepared by the Canadian Spotted Owl Recovery Team, recommends that a partial identification of critical habitat be employed.  For the sake of clarity under SARA, Environment Canada is identifying critical habitat for the Spotted Owl as:  all suitable habitat (as defined in Appendix 5 of the recovery strategy) within sites occupied by a Spotted Owl or pair of Spotted Owls during the previous or current year including any newly discovered sites. This identification assumes that well-designed, scientifically defensible inventories are conducted in accordance with the accepted Survey Protocol and Standards for Spotted Owls (Hobbs et al. 2004).  If an adequate survey has not been undertaken in any one year, then critical habitat will be identified as all sites occupied at least once in the last two consecutive years of adequate surveys (“adequate” meaning in adherence to the protocol for assigning vacancy status (Hobbs et al. 2004)) and any newly occupied sites.  This identification is based upon the Recovery Team’s statement that “a partial definition of critical habitat should be employed to approximate the minimal requirements for survival habitat” (p. 17).  Therefore, as adequate surveys have yet to be completed in 2006, as of the date of posting of this draft recovery strategy, proposed critical habitat is: all sites occupied in 2004 and 2005 and any additional sites found.

A site is defined as: a Spotted Owl Long Term Activity Centre (LTAC), as established under the BC Spotted Owl Management Plan (SOMIT 1997) and described by the BC Ministry of Environment (see SOMIT 1999 further information).  If an owl is outside an LTAC, a site is considered to be the territory (approximately 3200 ha).  

Further identification of critical habitat under SARA will be developed by Environment Canada, in cooperation with the Province of British Columbia.


Under the Canada – British Columbia Agreement on Species at Risk, Environment Canada anticipates working cooperatively with the Province of British Columbia and other interested parties and stakeholders to develop a proposed action plan for this species for posting on the SARA public registry by June 2007.  The proposed action plan will include an identification of critical habitat to the extent possible.


Hobbs, J., I. Blackburn and A. Harestad.  2004. Survey Protocols and Standards for the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) in British Columbia.  Unpublished BC Ministry of Environment Report prepared for Resource Inventory Standards Committee.

Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Parks Canada Agency. November 2004. Species at Risk Act Program Guidance: A guide to the critical habitat provisions of the Species at Risk Act. Draft. 46pp.

Spotted Owl Management Inter-Agency Team. (SOMIT).1999. Spotted Owl Management Plan: Resource Management Plans. B.C. Minist. Environment Lands and Parks and B.C. Minist. Forests, Victoria, BC, available through

Spotted Owl Management Inter-Agency Team (SOMIT). 1997. Spotted Owl Management Plan: Strategic Component. Ministry of  Environment, Lands & Parks/Ministry of Forests. 81pp.

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