• Burrowing owl

    Burrowing owls were once a common sight in southern BC.

  • Arrowleaf owl

    Burrowing owls are losing habitat every year

  • owly owl

    Help us save this endangered species


Creating Nests

We build and maintain nesting burrows in conservation areas for burrowing owls.
Volunteers are essential for making this program successful. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us at bocsbc@gmail.com

We raise and care for owls in dedicated breeding facilities. They are cared for by trained staff before reintroduction to the wild.
These centres are far apart in order to protect the birds in case of disease or disaster.
They are located at: Kamloops, Port Kells and Oliver.

Releasing Owls

After a year in the breeding facility young owls are tagged, paired and released to the wild. We monitor their success and report to BC government.
We support and promote educational and interpretation programs to inspire future generations who will conserve these iconic grassland birds.

Meet our Field Team

Lauren Meads

Executive Director

Lauren is passionate about animals and has Master's of Science in Applied Animal Behaviour from the University of Edinburgh Scotland. She has a great commitment to the conservation of burrowing owls.

Lia McKinnon

Field Biologist

Lia has been with the project for several years and confidently handles owls and their chicks as part of the spring and summer field program. 

Charyl Omelchuk

Field Biologist

Charyl works with the burrowing owl program in Kamloops. Her owl catching skills are unsurpassed and she is an asset to the program

Tracy Reynolds

BC Wildlife Park

Tracy is Animal Care Supervisor at BCWP. She looks after the burrowing owl captive breeding program in Kamloops.

Our Activities


Maintaining breeders


Raising Eggs and Chicks


Rearing Juveniles


Feeding and care


Banding and recording

Help & Support

Pairing for release


Releasing owls


Monitoring hatching success

Help & Support

Digging new nests


Building and Maintaining Facilities


Educating Community


Locating new sites

Help & Support

News articles

News articles

  • Captive breeding only works when animals can go home

    By David Suzuki with contributions from Ontario Science Projects Manager Rachel Plotkin

    B.C. is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a captive breeding program to protect spotted owls. With an estimated six of the owls left in the wild in Canada, all in B.C., that seems like good news. But while the program includes some habitat protection, the province is also approving logging in habitat the owl needs to survive.

    It’s a major flaw in government-led conservation efforts. Stories of captive breeding programs that lead to successful animal re-introduction are happy, but they’re often born out of sad stories about the animals’ plight.

    Captive breeding programs are last-ditch efforts to save animals after humans have degraded or destroyed their habitat to the point where it’s difficult for them to survive. In almost every case, experts and regulators are aware of the species’ decline and the reasons behind it, but calls for habitat conservation go unheeded, or efforts are inadequate to ensure the animals can continue.

    Species don’t disappear overnight. Activities that degrade and destroy habitat are allowed to continue until a species is driven to point where it can no longer function in the wild and needs human help.

    Conservation would work better if land-use management regimes focused on maintaining habitat wildlife needs to survive before it’s too late. Instead, we wait until tipping points have been passed and then scramble to capture animals for breeding.

    Captive breeding itself is often controversial, riddled with risks. When humans handle wildlife over generations, animals can become semi-domesticated and lose intergenerational knowledge about survival in nature. Once they’re re-introduced into the wild, many don’t make it.

    The odds of captured predators such as tigers and wolves surviving freedom are only 33 per cent, according to recent research, and studies show captive-bred animals are more likely to interact and mate with other captive-bred animals and lose their ability to communicate with wild peers. Another study concluded captive-bred animals may develop behavioural changes such as “decrease in predator avoidance, decrease in foraging abilities, increase in sleeping patterns, decrease in overall activity, and some problems in social behaviors.”

    The intergenerational effects are biological as well as cultural. One study showed captive breeding can result in genetic changes between captive and wild lineages, and confinement can make animals more susceptible to disease outbreaks. (A tragic lion-breeding program resulted in the deaths of nearly two dozen “struck by a mysterious disease aggravated by inbreeding and a weakened gene pool.”)

    The main issue is the risk of releasing captive-bred wildlife into degraded habitat that couldn’t support it in the first place. Most examples of successful endangered species recovery involve animals facing threats other than habitat loss. Eagles were declining because of DDT contamination until it was banned. Condors were being poisoned by lead in the bodies of the carrion they ate until lead shot was limited.

    Read full David Suzuki here

    Written on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 05:24
  • Owl evacuees get comfortable in new home in Kamloops
    Written on Tuesday, 27 August 2019 04:09
  • Burrowing Owl Events
    Burrowing Owl Events

    Boosting awareness of burrowing owls and their habitat will be the focus of three events beginning next month, hosted by the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC and World Wildlife Fund Canada.

    Burrowing owls, an at-risk species, are "charismatic little ground dwelling owls of semi-arid grasslands," the society said, adding they are native to the southern Interior.

    The society breeds and releases owls into the region, and volunteers build artificial burrows for them to nest in upon being released.

    The first workshop takes place on Sept. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. near Oliver, at a breeding facility located behind the South Okanagan Recovery Centre for Owls.  There, participants will build burrows before a discussion on conservation for the final hour.

    A second event will take place on Oct. 5 at the Osoyoos Visitor Centre, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attendees there will head to a "well-established site" to install burrows and remove invasive plants from their entrances.

    A third event is scheduled for Oct. 13 at the Quilchena Resort near Merritt from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., similar to the one taking place in Osoyoos.

    "The fall is a perfect time to install and/ or repair burrows for the owls as they have migrated to their wintering grounds in California and even into Mexico," the society noted.

    Space is limited, and those looking to participate can find more information and register here.

    Article by Castanet

    Written on Friday, 07 September 2018 23:37

Digging for Owls

Bird Words


Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

BC Government

BC Government

Canadian Government

Canadian Government

Nature Conservancy of Canada


Telus Community Grants


TD Friends of the Environment


BC Government Community Gaming Grants

BC Government Community Gaming Grants

Private Donors


World Wildlife Fund Canada

World Wildlife Fund Canada

1% for the Planet

One percent for the planet

Transformation Catalyst



Nature Trust of BC

Nature Trust BC

Upper Nicola Band

Upper Nicola Band

Penticton Indian Band

Penticton Indian Band

Wildlife Preservation Canada

Wildlife Preservation Canada

Our Partners

Calgary Zoo

Calgary Zoo

BC Wildlife Park


Global Owl Project

Global Owl Project

Canadian Wildlife Service, Alberta



Download our BOCS BC pamphlet on protecting burrowing owls.
If you spot an owl in the field we would love to hear about it.
Please email us at bocsbc@gmail.com

Include details of the location, time, date, weather conditions and what the bird was doing. If you took a photograph please include it. Tell us if you noticed any bands or coloured marking on the legs.