Saanich residents living near the Kings Park were shocked to come across a dead owl on Friday morning.
Rob Vanzella lives in the area and was concerned when a neighbour told him the owl’s body had been spotted during an early morning walk. He went out to look for it, expecting it to be in a tree. Instead, the brown bird was slumped on the ground.
Neighbours near Kings Park in Saanich were concerned when they spotted this resident owl dead this morning. An autopsy has been requested to determine if the owl was poisoned.— Devon Bidal (@devonscarlett) November 30, 2019
The community’s desire to save the green space has been reinforced. @saanichnews pic.twitter.com/RXAHFVt3cY
Vanzella took the owl home so that it wouldn’t be scavenged before the cause of death could be determined. He was worried about rat poison, but noted it could have been old age or a fight with another owl that killed the bird.
Residents have been rallying for over a year in an effort to have the 2.2 hectare lot between Kings Road and Haultain Street become a designated park in Saanich.
In January, the municipality bought the land – unofficially called Kings Park – from B.C. Hydro for $5.5 million. The District also announced that $2.75 million would need to be fundraised by August 2020 to offset the cost of the park as Saanich borrowed $4 million for the purchase.
Vanzella said this incident has reinfoced the neighbourhood’s desire to protect the park and turn it into a wildlife sanctuary. He also pointed out the need to raise awareness about the effects of rat poison on other wildlife.
The concerned neighbours have been in contact with the BC SPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) and with the British Columbia Interagency Wild Bird Mortality and Seabird Bycatch reporting line to alert authorities about the deceased owl.
Barred Owls are native to the area and are commonly spotted in Greater Victoria, explained Ashley Currie, Wild ARC staff member.
She pointed out that owls are frequently hit by cars in the region, but there are a variety of ways the Kings Road owl could have died.
The owl will be collected and brought to the Animal Health Centre lab in Abbotsford, explained Environment Canada biologist, Laurie Wilson. An autopsy exam will be conducted to on the owl to determine the cause of death. The results will be available about two weeks after the tests are conducted.