It’s one of the most important wildlife conservation sites in the UK, and it is in danger of disappearing.
After 26 years as one of Britain’s leading tourist attractions, it looks like the World Owl Trust is being forced to leave its headquarters at Muncaster Castle, in the north west of England, following the unexpected termination of its current agreement with the Muncaster Estate.
Muncaster is located in the heart of the Western Lake District, in Ravenglass, the only coastal village of the wild and beautiful Lake District National Park, a favorite destination for hikers, climbers and backpackers.
The World Owl Trust, which has more than 200 birds within the gardens of Muncaster Castle, claims it has been given notice to leave by the estate’s management.
The Trust’s renowned World Owl Center is currently home to almost 200 owls of around 50 different species and is widely acknowledged as the finest owl collection in the world. The Center has an enormous range of owls, from bizarre fish owls to diminutive pygmy owls, which are not much bigger than a sparrow. In the 2013 season the Trust welcomed over 62,000 visitors who came to see the owls housed in large sensitively landscaped aviaries and to learn about the Trust’s work.
Founder Tony Warburton said he has received a document instructing the group to be gone by May 2015. Estate managers disagree, saying that they are simply looking to replace the existing agreement which runs until 2046.
Nevertheless, here’s how the World Owl Trust President, Tony Warburton, describes what is going on:
“Our fabulous owl collection is only the visible part of the Trust’s work, but is nevertheless a vitally important one. Despite this blow we are determined to remain the leading authority on the breeding of endangered owls and their conservation. I feel certain that the World Owl Trust will be able to continue its work and provide a fantastic visitor attraction once we find a new home. However, we need to act quickly as we only have until the end of the current season to do so. We urgently need help; otherwise we will run out of time and may then be faced with the unthinkable”.
Warburton stresses that if the right offer comes along, the Trust is willing to move the World Owl Center anywhere in the UK, ideally to a Country Park or large estate with a sympathetic landowner. If one can be found, the Center is certain to provide a major visitor attraction and allow the Trust to continue all of its important educational and conservation activities.
What’s the arrangement between the World Owl Trust and Muncaster Castle?
The Trust, which is a registered charity, currently receives a percentage of the admission charge paid by visitors to Muncaster. But Warburton fears that the new terms and conditions could make his operation financially unviable.
What Is The World Owl Trust?
The World Owl Center, within the gardens of Muncaster Castle, is the headquarters of the World Owl Trust. This registered charity is widely acknowledged as the world’s leading owl conservation organization.
The Trust promotes scientific research, habitat creation and restoration, nest box scheme and a breeding program. The Trust is also committed to education for all and spreading the message of conservation and biodiversity as a whole. At the Center, the Trust rehabilitates injured owls and other wildlife until they are fit to be released to the wild.
If you believe that this incredible conservation effort for owls needs to continue, please sign and share our petition to protect the World Owl Trust in the UK.
The home of these owls on the grounds of the Muncaster Castle is in danger of closing its doors due to this notice to vacate the premises by May of 2015; please encourage support of the World Owl Trust to guarantee a home for these owls.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock