Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) recovery strategy: chapter 30

Addendum 2



This recovery strategy has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions responsible for the Northern Spotted Owl. Environment Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as its recovery strategy for the Northern Spotted Owl as required under the Species at Risk Act. This recovery strategy also constitutes advice to other jurisdictions and organizationsthat may be involved in recovering the species.

The goals, objectives and recovery approaches identified in the strategy are based on the best existing knowledge and are subject to modifications resulting from new findings and revised objectives.

This recovery strategy will be the basis for one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation and recovery of the species. The Minister of the Environment will report on progress within five years.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. In the spirit of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of the Environment invites all responsible jurisdictions and Canadians to join Environment Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Northern Spotted Owl and Canadian society as a whole.



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 into 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.


In August of 2006, a Draft Recovery Strategy was posted on the Public Registry for comment.  In addition, Environment Canada invited 26 industry stakeholders, 26 First Nations, 8 non-governmental organizations, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to provide comments on the draft recovery strategy.  Three First Nations were extended an offer to meet in person to discuss the recovery strategy. Useful comments were received from a number of individuals and groups, including environmental non-governmental organizations and First Nations.  These comments have been considered in the finalization of this strategy and have been shared with the Government of British Columbia. Since this strategy was drafted in 2003, substantial work on the preparation and implementation of an Action Plan has been undertaken by the Recovery Team and by the Government of British Columbia. The comments received through this consultation process will inform both this action planning process and the final draft Action Plan posted on the Public Registry by Environment Canada. 


This recovery strategy contains a section on socio-economic considerations (Section I.13), written by the Canadian Spotted Owl Recovery Team after the majority of the recovery strategy had been prepared.  This preliminary analysis was later superseded by a socio-economic baseline analysis, mentioned in the update letter found at the beginning of the strategy.  As a socio-economic analysis is not required under Section 41(1) of the SARA, section I.13 of the recovery strategy for the Northern Spotted Owl is not considered part of the Minister of Environment's recovery strategy for this species.


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, critical habitat is: all sites occupied in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

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 for further information), and any revisions or updates thereto.  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, the Province of British Columbia is leading the development and implementation of an action plan for the Northern Spotted Owl.  Environment Canada will work cooperatively with the Province of British Columbia and other interested parties and stakeholders to post a  draft action plan for this species on the SARA Public Registry by June 2007.  The draft action plan will include a full 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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