Heloise Nicholl, shown with her family in the film, is a HAT Good Neighbour Habitat Steward. (Alex Harris Photo, Submitted)

VIDEO: Landowners creating backyard wildlife habitats in Greater Victoria

Western screech-owls, frogs, bears – even cougars – rely on privately owned habitat

Private landowners own 80 per cent of the Capital Regional District, so Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) figured it made sense to work directly with those individuals to create frog-, owl- and bear-friendly habitats in their own backyards.

The Good Neighbour program just released a short film, What does it mean to be a Good Neighbour to Nature? showing how a four landowners became land stewards, in the middle of extensive development in the region.

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Already they’ve heard the exciting call of a western screech-owl, a creature HAT says hasn’t been seen in Metchosin for more than 10 years.

“We were beyond thrilled when we heard a western screech-owl for the first time in our lives, and realized that this threatened owl was living in Metchosin. When we notified HAT, the enthusiasm and speed of response was amazing, visiting our site, educating us about habitat, and connecting us with a biologist, Joanna, who quickly installed a recording unit on our property,” says Nicole Shukin, one of the stewards featured in the film.

Over three years since it was started, HAT’s Good Neighbours has worked with more than 1,000 landowners in Sooke, Langford and Metchosin.

RELATED: Greater Victoria program hosts free habitat mapping workshop

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Environment