Vehicles Hit Hundreds of Owls

Cars and trucks hit 950 owls that were later found lying along highways in the lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia, killing all but ten.

Barn owls were the most common victim, with a total of 542 birds recorded during 12 years of patrolling roads.

One-third of the barn owls were discovered in a mortality hotspot along a 9 km section of Highway 1 in Abbotsford. The barn owl species is blue-listed in BC because of concern about its conservation.

Northern saw-whet owls also suffered heavily, with 278 birds collected after they had collided with vehicles. Nearly all of the accidents occurred between November and February, a surprising find because these owls were thought to have migrated farther south for winter. The roadkills indicate that many northern saw-whet owls spend winter in the Fraser Valley.

The ten species of owls killed by vehicles along highways between Delta, Chilliwack and Agassiz include two other blue-listed birds: western screech owl and short-eared owl. The 16 western screech owls found dead indicate that highway traffic is contributing to the decline of this rare species.


Michael I. Preston and Gerry A. Powers. 2006. High Incidence of Vehicle-induced Owl Mortality in the Lower Mainland and Central Fraser Valley, British Columbia. Wildlife Afield. 3(1 Supplement): 15-23.

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