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State of the Snowy Owl

Although we’ve covered a lot of material over the last 7 days, our discussion wouldn’t be complete without addressing the state of the Snowy Owl.

In response to new population estimates, in 2018 the Snowy Owl was added to the Red List of Threatened Species. Around this same time, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) changed their status to vulnerable – the last designation before endangered.

Population estimates are tricky, especially when it comes to Snowy Owls – their nomadic lifestyle, wide range, and remote Arctic habitat create great challenges for monitoring. But here’s what we can tell you: over 27 years of research, Snowy Owls have declined in our study area. In fact, if the downward trend continues at its current rate, an end to the Snowy Owls of our study area can be charted.

What can be done? Effective conservation results from solid research. Legislation to protect habitat does not result from emotional arguments or anecdotal observations, alone. It also takes data. And that’s what we do. ORI’s Arctic research is focused on long-term population monitoring, climate modeling and analysis, satellite tracking, and banding. We also conduct studies that reveal information about growth and development, diet, behavior, and more – like the things we’ve shared with you throughout this week.

Each breeding season we also spend a great deal of time protecting nests from disturbance. This is part of our longtime partnership with the Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corp (UIC). All Snowy Owl photography in the Utqiagvk area is regulated through UIC and ORI. We’ve seen too many nests fail as a result of human negligence and, together, we’re tightening regulations.

Lastly, we need your help. Our work for Snowy Owls cannot continue without your support. Please follow the link below and make a contribution today. Thanks again for being a part of our team!

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