Mountain View Conservation Society has slid into extinction, but a new society may take over conserving some of its land.
The society, which once housed and bred endangered animals from around the world on its site near Fort Lagnley, has been quietly winding down for years. In October, it officially lost its tax exempt status with Langley Township.
Currently, there are a handful of birds on the property, but the last remaining major program is the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Centre.
That program is now being run by a contractor with the B.C. Conservation Foundation, for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources.
The ministry leases 25 acres of the site, while the rest is used as farmland.
“The owl program is doing very well,” said Malcolm Weatherstone, who previously acted as a spokesperson for Mountain View.
Now Weatherstone and Mountain View founder Gordon Blankstein are looking into creating a much smaller-scale conservation project, to protect some B.C. Crown lands.
Mountain View leased about 150 acres of Crown land adjacent to its main site.
The lands are still leased under the name of the old society. Weatherstone said they hope to create a new society, EarthWorld.ca, that can take over the lease and look after the lands.
“There’s an old mill there that burned down and has been absorbed by nature,” Weatherstone said.
A few people have visited the site, mostly from local conservation groups, and a study found endangered plant species.
Weatherstone said the hope is that the land will be left alone, and used for research.
Mountain View was founded in 1986 by Blankstein.
The society was dedicated to breeding and conserving rare animals, and for many years had a special focus on small, wild cat species from around the world.
However, it also held animals including lemurs, giraffes, antelope, buffalo, African wild dogs, and deer.
The society did not initially encourage public visits, but starting in the early 2000s, it began offering tours, including to school groups.
In 2009 and 2010, Mountain View went through a tumultuous and highly public incident that included an SPCA investigation following the death of a giraffe, and a labour dispute involving then-current and former employees.
The SPCA investigation did not lead to any charges.
However, Mountain View announced shortly after that it would relocate its exotic animals to other zoos and conservation centres. Its frog and Vancouver Island marmot breeding programs also finished.