On March 4, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (in San Francisco) upheld a policy of the Fish and Wildlife Service that kills barred owls in Oregon. The practice, which goes back to 2013, had been challenged in court by Friends of Animals.
An article by Barbara Grzincic of Reuters explains that the northern spotted owl was declared as a threatened species in 1990, due to logging of old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest and California.
“By 2011, another threat was clear: the barred owl, a native of the northeastern United States, had migrated west and was out-competing the native birds for habitat and prey. The agency authorized the 2013 experiment to assess the effect of lessened competition.”
“Removal” of barred owls has continued since then. As part of the experiment (called the Barred Owl Removal Experiment), the agency obtained access to land owned by the state of Oregon and three private landowners.
“In exchange for their cooperation, the agency allowed them to harvest timber in designated areas where no resident northern spotted owls had been found for several years. The permits also protected the loggers from prosecution if their operations should incidentally harm or kill the threatened birds.”
The court’s decision can be found here: https://casetext.com/case/friends-of-animals-v-united-states-fish-wildlife-serv-1.
The views of the Mountain States Legal Foundation (in an email): “Now the feds are shooting barred owls in order to ‘save’ spotted owls, all with the blessing of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in another Endangered Species Act absurdity.”
Image of barred owl by Canadian Nature Visions on Pixabay. Hat tip to Mountain States Legal Foundation.
2 thoughts on “Shooting Barred Owls to Save Spotted Owls”
If the spotted owl really cannot maintain populations in competition with barred owls, this means the only way to save the spotted owl is to have yearly slaughter of barred owls. Expensive and it won’t work. The barred owl seems to have established populations in the PNW naturally. So now the FSW is working against natural dynamics?
Yes, I think the FSW is working against natural dynamics, but the agency won’t see it that way. To the agency the barred owl is “invasive.”