by Patricia Grinsteed
I visited the Mountain View Conservation and Breeding Centre near Fort Langley, B.C., in the fall of 2010 with a group of elders from North Shore Neighbourhood House, North Vancouver. We were shown a film on the near-extinction of the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). We then toured the facility and became educated on the long term breeding programmes intended to create healthy colonies of the species for release back into the wild. I promptly fell in love with these creatures. When asked “why?” I answered “because this experience has been the first in my life where and when I had come face to face with a near extinct species”. In 2010 the Conservation Centre, operating on shoe string financing, had only 6 pairs to breed from. This year they are hoping for 8 breeding pairs. Although the Centre maintains small numbers of other endangered species from Canada and around the world, including the critically endangered Vancouver Island Marmot, for me the plight of our B.C. Northern Spotted Owl affected me the most. Perhaps I was just responding to the deep wise look they appear to have.
The Mountain View Conservation and Breeding Centre was founded in 1986 by Gordon and Yvonne Blankstein. Initially comprising 55 acres of temperate rainforest in the Fraser Valley, it has since been expanded to over 300 acres. Mountain View’s mission and purpose is to save rare and endangered Canadian wildlife species from extinction by breeding them into thriving family groups and returning them to their natural habitat. More than 50 different species of rare and critically endangered animals have been hosted at the Centre over the past 25 years. The main facilities now include a large barn with quarantine areas, veterinary and keeper service areas, several hoofstock barns, an aviary complex, and several small carnivore houses. Important components are the Vancouver Island Marmot breeding facility, a 20 acre Northern Spotted Owl habitat area, and a wetland built specifically for marine & amphibian species.