Federal wildlife officials are moving ahead with an experiment to see if killing a rival owl will help save the northern spotted owl from extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it gave final approval to a plan to send trained hunters into the woods to shoot barred owls.
Barred owls migrated from the East and arrived in spotted owl territory in 1959. The agency says they have since become the biggest threat to spotted owl survival. Plans are to kill or capture barred owls in four study areas in Washington, Oregon and Northern California over the next four years. The spotted owl forced big changes in management of national forests when environmentalists won lawsuits to protect the old growth forests where the owls live from logging.
Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing barred owls will allow northern spotted owls to reclaim territory they've been driven out of over the past half-century.
The experiment is to see if killing more than 3,000 barred owls in four study areas in Oregon, Washington and Northern California will help spotted owls - a threatened species - recover. Final approval is due in a month. If it works - and there are other studies indicating it will - a regular program to reduce barred owl populations would be considered.
Barred owls are a bigger, more aggressive cousin of the spotted owl. They are less picky about food and forests, and they threaten the spotted owl's survival.
July 23, 2013/AP
IMAGE - Above: Barred Owl and Below: Spotted Owl