You can help the endangered masked owl

Source: The Courier

MEET Max, the two-year-old male masked owl.

Max lives at Lal Lal with his owner Michael Church, who doubles as thedirector of mobile zoo,The Rookeepers.

But Max, who is slightly larger than a barn owl, is also an endangered species.

According to Mr Church, masked owls prefer to nest in 100-year-old tree hollows, which are often cut down for firewood or lost in burnoffs or bushfires, forcing the owls into towns where they get hit by cars or killed by baits, poisons, cats or lack of food.

“Masked owls are also endangered as the environment in which they are found is uncommon,” Mr Church said.

“They require woodland forest with cleared areas, abundant mammals throughout on the ground and in tree hollows to feed on, and 100-year-old hollows.”

Mr Church was highlighting the masked owl’s plight as part of National Biodiversity Month, held annually in September.

“Australia is home to between 600,000 and 700,000 species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world,” he said.

“We are one of 17 countries classified as mega diverse and about 84 per cent of our plants, 83 per cent of our mammals and 45 per cent of our birds are endemic, or found only in Australia.

“Biodiversity is the basis for much of our recreation and tourism and includes the ecosystems which provide us with many services such as clean water.

“It is important to protect these services to allow future generations to enjoy our beautiful fauna and flora, and awareness is the key to conservation.”

Mr Church said people could help the masked owl by recycling and reusing timber products, not just plastics, and making sure timber was sourced from a plantation, rather than a forest.

In safe hands: The Rookeepers director Michael Church with Max the masked owl. Pic: KATE HEALY

“Just a simple thing like the loss of a tree hollow can mean the loss of a whole species,” he said.

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