A Leeds charity has launched a new fundraising appeal to help save the region’s endangered barn owl population.
The Canal and River Trust, based near Brewery Wharf, is asking for public help to support the plight of the reclusive birds.
Barn owl numbers have dwindled across the country due to threats including the cutting down of trees, the destruction of natural grasslands and barn conversions,
In the Leeds region, nest boxing schemes alongside the Aire and Calder Navigation have seen some recent success in pushing up numbers,
Around 30 barn owl nest boxes are already installed between Knottingley and Goole and, as a result of the project, newly nesting birds have been found in around half of the boxes.
But experts say more needs to be done.
Phillippa Baron, ecologist at the Canal and River Trust , said: “Owls’ survival depends on their ability to secure food and the waterways provide an ideal home and feeding ground.
“We’ve been trying to do our bit to secure the recovery of Britain’s barn owl population alongside our waterways and we’ve had some good success so far.
“We’re now looking to get some extra public support to help us keep up this momentum by managing the grasslands around the nest boxes for better feeding and provide some more nesting options.
“It is thanks to the funding and cooperation of partner organisations and individuals that this type of project is possible so we’d be really grateful if the local community would support us and donate to this project.”
Colin Shawyer of the Wildlife Conservation Partnership, which works with the Trust, added: “We are delighted that the Canal and River Trust is involved with us in a project to secure the recovery of Britain’s barn owl population.
“It’s important we do all we can to protect this protected species and this project is going a long way to helping that.”
Barn owls are a protected species in Britain under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Log on to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk or text OWLS to 70007 to donate £3 to the appeal.