Western Screech Owl


Last COSEWIC designation: May 2002
SARA risk category: Endangered

Description: The Western Screech-owl, Otus kennicottii, is a small, grey-brown owl with streaked plumage and ‘ear tufts’. Its appearance is very similar to the Eastern Screech-owl, which was considered conspecific with the Western Screech-owl until 1983.

Habitat: This owl prefers open forest for foraging and requires cavities in old, large trees for nesting and roosting.

Threats: Along the south coast of BC, declines in Western Screech-owl populations have occurred at the same time as strong increases in the Barred Owl population. The evidence for a direct link between these two phenomena is mostly anecdotal, but it is repeated by numerous sources. Serious habitat loss is occurring in the southern interior of BC where the valley bottomlands preferred by screech-owls are more likely to be developed than other habitats. Also, Western Screech-owls require trees that are large enough to hold a nest cavity within which they can breed; thus some forestry practices in urban and wilderness situations may negatively impact this species.

Peregrine Falcon


Last COSEWIC designation: May 2000
SARA risk category: Threatened

Description: Falcons have long pointed wings that enable them to fly at great speed. Their bluish-grey or slate-coloured upper parts characterize adults of both sexes. The anatums are medium-sized, coloured buffy-salmon on the breast, and often have black cheeks.

Habitat: The habitat requirements of the Peregrine Falcon can be divided into three components; the nest site which are usually scrapes made on cliff ledges on steep cliffs, usually near wetlands –including artificial cliffs such as quarries and buildings; the nesting territory which is the area defended around the nest prevents other pairs from nesting within 1 km or more; and the home range which is the extended, non-defended area in which the peregrines hunt for additional food and which can extend to 27 km from the nest.

Threats: In the past, the major cause of decline of Peregrine Falcon populations were the presence of agricultural pesticides in the environment. Current threats include the small population size and the diminishing quality of habitat. Locally, peregrines may be affected by destruction of breeding sites and breeding areas, or by human intrusion near nest sites.

Grizzly Bear


Last COSEWIC designation: May 2002
SARA risk category: Special Concern

Description: In contrast to American black bears, grizzlies have a prominent shoulder hump, concave facial profile, and long front claws. Fur colour ranges from blonde through shades of brown to nearly black.

Habitat: Grizzlies can be found from sea level to high-elevation alpine environments. In Canada they occupy habitats as diverse as temperate coastal rain forests and semi-desert Arctic tundra. Most grizzly bears eat primarily vegetation, and their habitat associations are therefore strongly seasonal and typically reflect local plant development.

Threats: There is some natural mortality in bear populations, but most grizzlies die from human activities. Populations in most areas in Canada are hunted, and licenced hunters kill over 450 grizzly bears each year. Another 100 are known to be killed by other human causes, and substantial numbers are killed and not reported. The development of roads and other linear features into grizzly bear habitat is a particular threat. Roads themselves pose little harm, but their use by humans reduces habitat effectiveness in a buffer zone around the roads.

American Badger


Last COSEWIC designation: May 2000
SARA risk category: Endangered

Description: The American Badger is a heavy-bodied, short-legged and short-tailed member of the weasel family. The head has a distinctive pattern: the muzzle, crown and back of the neck are dark black-brown with a mid-dorsal stripe that runs from the nose over the top of the head to the shoulders.

Habitat: Open habitats, whether natural (deserts, grasslands, forest clearings, alpine areas) or man-made (agricultural fields, road right-of-ways, golf courses, clearcuts), are generally used. Suitable habitat in British Columbia is limited and fragmented, has significantly decreased in quality (including reduction in ground squirrel numbers) and quantity, and much of the remaining habitat is threatened by urbanization and intense agriculture (orchards).

Threats: Primary limiting factors include habitat fragmentation, an increase in agriculture (annual crop production, conversion of natural habitat to orchards and clearing of residual native vegetation), reduction in prey, control of badgers as nuisance animals, invasion of open habitat by trees and shrubs because of fire suppression, and roadkills.

Coho Salmon


Last COSEWIC designation: May 2002
SARA risk category: Endangered

Description: Characterized by the presence of small black spots on the back and on the upper lobe of the caudal fin, and by the lack of dark pigment along the gum line of the lower jaw. Fish in the sea are dark metallic blue or greenish on the back and upper sides, a brilliant silver color on middle and lower sides, and white below; small black spots present on back and upper sides and on upper lobe of caudal. Fish in breeding condition turn dark to bright green on head and back, bright red on the sides, and often dark on the belly. Females are less brightly colored than males.

Habitat: Young coho generally spend one year in freshwater. Juvenile coho favour small streams, sloughs and ponds, but coho populations can also be found in lakes and large rivers. Coho juveniles are territorial while in freshwater and will vigorously defend their territories against other coho and trout. Juvenile coho can be brightly coloured with orange-red bodies and dramatic black and white edges on the anal and dorsal fins. While defending their territories, they make threatening displays by turning sideways to the intruder and spreading their fins to make themselves appear as large as possible. At the same time, the small fish can shimmy and shake in a display called the “wig-wag dance”. This and other behaviour of young coho have been widely studied.

Threats: Overfishing, changing marine conditions, and habitat perturbations all contributed to declines. Excessive fishing resulted when harvest rates were not reduced quickly in response to climate-driven declines in marine productivity. In addition, coho declines were often related to the intensity of human disturbance in freshwater.