The body of a dead owl has been discovered on the ground in Victoria’s Bastion Square Thursday morning.
Stephanie LeCorre was walking through the square on her way to work, like she does every day, when she noticed what looked like a bird on the ground.
“It was very small and pretty much perfect-looking,” LeCorre said. “There was nothing wrong, no signs of fight or anything.”
Once LeCorre got closer and saw the shape of its head, she realized it was undoubtedly an owl, lying face-down on the ground.
“[It] was really upsetting to see, so I put my mask around it and just took it to the bench,” she said. “And just kind of cradled it in my mask.”
LeCorre then called Owl Watch B.C., an environmental conservation group, to report the death.
The bird is likely a Northern Saw-whet Owl that may have died to rodenticide, said Deanna Pfeifer of Owl Watch B.C.
“The poisons are supposed to be kept in a locked bait box,” Pfeifer said. “It does nothing to mitigate the risk to wildlife because this is a consequence of us using that poison. The mice go in, they eat the poison and they exit through the hole on the other side.”
They don’t stay in the box, she added. A weak, poisoned rat serves as easy prey and that gives rise to secondary poisoning of predators like owls, Pfeifer said, noting it often results in cases like these.
The dead owl will be sent to an animal health lab on the Lower Mainland and a necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.
Owl Watch B.C. is calling on the province to ban the sale and use of eight rodenticides they believe contribute to owl fatalities.