FOUR types of large forest owls will be protected in a new plan to prevent their extinction in Lake Macquarie.
Powerful, masked, sooty and barking owls will be safeguarded with the plan, which the city council prepared.
It was estimated up to 5910 hectares of owl habitat in Lake Macquarie was ‘‘likely to be subject to development pressure to 2030’’, a council report said.
The owls live in forests, particularly old-growth areas, which provide ‘‘hollows required for nesting, roosting and prey’’.
‘‘Development projects and activities may adversely affect these species,’’ the report said.
The plan aims to protect owl habitat and provide a ‘‘framework for future conservation and urban planning, as well as identifying future scientific research priorities’’.
‘‘This is expected to lead to long-term conservation benefits and help protect the species from local extinction,’’ the council’s report said.
Councillors will vote tomorrow to call for public comment on the plan, which considered ‘‘contemporary scientific understanding of the species within Lake Macquarie’’.
Coal Point Progress Association president Suzanne Pritchard said the owls were ‘‘majestic animals’’.
‘‘When you come face to face with an owl, one of the big ones, they’re awe- inspiring,’’ Ms Pritchard said.
‘‘Even if you’re out in the bush and they swoop you, it’s a real thrill.’’
Ms Pritchard is involved with Landcare and conservation efforts.
‘‘Whenever Landcarers are on site and they come across an owl, it’s a real buzz,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s not like seeing your local noisy miner.’’
Ms Pritchard said the council guidelines ‘‘give hope we can keep these birds as a part of our community’’.
The Newcastle Herald reported recently that Birdlife Australia was monitoring powerful owls from Newcastle to Wollongong and recording breeding sites in urban areas.
The aim was to raise awareness about the owl’s plight and seek to protect it.
A POWERFUL owl was released back into the wild in Warners Bay at the weekend after recovering from a head injury.
The Native Animal Trust Fund took the male owl into care in March, after it was found dazed and lethargic.
Trust president Audrey Koosmen said the bird was probably suffering from concussion.
It was treated with anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and nursed during weeks of rest, before being transferred to Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) in the Southern Highlands for rehabilitation.
“The species is vulnerable to extinction in NSW, so any effort towards maintaining the population is critical,” Ms Koosmen said.
WIRES general manager Leanne Taylor said large birds like the owl ‘‘can lose significant strength when they are in long-term care and not using their muscles’’.
‘‘They need this strength back to survive in their natural environment and travel their large home territories,’’ she said.
‘‘After being put through his paces for a few weeks in a flight aviary, the owl demonstrated he had recovered his strength and was able to find food,’’ Ms Taylor said.