Environmental advocate Dorothy Chambers was left disheartened after hearing that a well-known owl at Cuthbert Holmes Park in Saanich had died last Saturday.
“Absolute profound sadness,” Chambers said.
The great-horned owl known as “Ollie” was first discovered at the park nine years ago and had fathered several owlets with his mate.
Chambers, who strolls through the park four to five times per day, received a call from a nearby resident on Saturday morning saying they spotted Ollie lying dead along the side of Colquitz Creek.
After arriving on scene, Chambers did a thorough investigation of his body and concluded that rat poisoning was most likely the cause of death.
“He has not been harmed in any way, from an attack, from any trauma. His feathers were intact, there was no bleeding, and my suspicion was perhaps he had been poisoned,” said Chambers.
Over the past year, multiple other owls in Greater Victoria have died, with necropsy reports showing rat poison as the cause.
Saanich, Oak Bay, Sooke, North Saanich and Colwood councils have all banned the use of rodenticide, but advocates say real change won’t happen until there’s a province-wide ban.
“This is devastating and I think we have to get the word out there that this is happening and we’re losing lots of animals all around us. It’s not necessary there are alternative methods and we need to get this ban done urgently,” said Deanna Preifer a member of Owl Watch B.C.
“I’m finding it hard to believe that they’re still for sale and that private homeowners and farmers are still buying these products.” Chambers added.
There was worry that Ollie’s mate could also have been poisoned, but she’s since been found alive and healthy.
Chambers took Ollie’s body home to put in her freezer, but it’s since been picked up by representatives of the provincial wildlife veterinarian to undergo a necropsy.