Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Government experts suggest eliminating other owl species by the year 2024 in order to save an endangered species.

By Jennifer Dec 25, 2023
A juvenile barred owl in Kirkland, Wash.Wolfgang Kaehler / LightRocket via Getty Images


The extinction of one owl species determines the survival of another.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes this claim in their request to get permission to kill hundreds of thousands of barred owls in West Coast forests over the next 30 years. According to the service, the near genetic related, the spotted owl, is being displaced by the barred owl, which is not a native of the area.

Service experts warn that the spotted owl may become extinct and vanish from portions of Washington and Oregon in a few years if barred owls are not controlled.

With the spotted owl’s decline serving as a focal point for environmentalists opposing logging in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s, the plan is the most recent in a string of attempts to rescue the species.

Spotted owl
Spotted owl – Wikipedia

The barred owl most likely arrived in the Pacific Northwest due to human impact, namely the westward migration of European immigrants. These days, the plan makes people wonder how far they should go to protect a species and how much it will cost to make up for a long-standing ecological injustice.

It is not the fault of the barred owls. It is our responsibility to have brought them here. As the head for the agency’s barred owl plan, scientist Robin Brown of Fish and Wildlife Service said, “It’s not the spotted owls’ fault either. “If we don’t control barred owls, the future of the species is extinction. The lettering is in the corridor.

The agency’s plan, which asks for the “lethally removal” of over 470,000 barred owlsβ€”that is, their killing with shotgunsβ€”remains in draft form and is available for public comment until January 16.

Contrary to prohibited, spots The extinction of one owl species determines the survival of another.

Spotted and barred owls might be difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish between. Both are fair-faced with coats speckled in shades of brown and white. The two belong to the same genus. The location of the barred owl in the Eastern United States and the spotted owl in the Western woodlands of the United States served as a primary distinguishing characteristic prior to the 20th century.

On the other hand, the barred owl is not as picky about where it builds its nest or what it consumes, and it is somewhat larger, more aggressive, and reproduces more quickly.

Based mostly on barred owls, spotted owl numbers have decreased by about 75% over the last 20 years and continue to drop by around 5% year, according to an environmental impact statement outlining the USFWS plan. According to the plan, the West Coast’s woodlands are home to around 100,000 barred owls.

They visit these locations. They become to be quite dense. According to David Wiens, a supervisory research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, “they’re basically eating everything and competing with spotted owls for food.”

According to the USFWS’s proposed management plan, barred owls in Washington, Oregon, and Californiaβ€”roughly one-third of the spotted owl rangeβ€”will be killed over the course of three decades. Under the proposal, the barred owl would be eliminated from 1%–2% of its existing territory.

Trained shooter crews would draw attention to themselves by emitting an owl sound. The birds would then be killed by them using shotguns and flashlights.

Wiens oversaw an experimental research financed by the USFWS that looked at the effectiveness of the method over a five-year period in five different Pacific Northwest forest locations. The findings, which were released in 2021, revealed that spotted owls had a 10% higher survival rate in places where barred owls were eliminated, and that around 2,485 barred owls were killed.

The spotted owl population was stable but did not significantly grow as a result of the removal. According to Brown, since spotted owls spawn slowly, the government believes it will take more than five years for numbers to recover.

The USFWS would probably need to “perpetually manage the species” since barred owls are so dominant that it’s expected that their numbers would eventually recover. Brown said.

Wildlife scientists discussed the idea of killing the creatures with an ethicist, according to Kessina Lee, the state supervisor for the USFWS in Oregon. According to Lee, the elimination of a species is a more acceptable option than its death.

“Human intervention may be necessary at times to correct an unnatural situation,” the speaker said.

There are differing opinions among some animal rights organizations.

An failed challenge to the USFWS’s approval to carry out the 2021 research was made by Friends of Animals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to animal protection located in Connecticut.

“We don’t think it’s ethical to be going out and calling for barred owls and shooting them with a shotgun because they are currently outcompeting other species and doing better in the existing environment,” said Jennifer Best, the director of the charity’s wildlife law program.

To put it best, risks like climate change force organisms to constantly adapt to new stresses and relocate to new settings.

“There is a need to discuss and think about how to handle it. She said that eliminating the species that are prospering is not a wise course of action.

decades-long efforts to save spotted owls
There was turmoil when barred owls first arrived in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

The lumber Wars refer to the conflicts that broke out between environmentalists and loggers in the late 1980s and early 1990s over the cutting of lumber in the old-growth forests that remained. A heated dispute revolved around the spotted owl, which loves to reside in the large old-growth trees that were disappearing.

Ultimately, the battle resulted in a strategy to preserve historic forests on federal lands as well as safeguards for the bird and its habitat. Under the Endangered Species Act, the owl was listed as a vulnerable species in 1990.

Up until barred owls started to take control, such actions were helpful.

The distribution of barred owls is thought to have been facilitated by changes in the Canadian climate or human-caused modifications to the Great Plains, such as the expansion of treed habitat after the eradication of beavers and buffalo, which hampered the development of trees.

They traveled slowly over the region over a period of around 100 years. They really started to explode after they reached the West Coast and the surrounding forest, according to Wiens.

However, Best sees the barred owl as a scapegoat and believes that killing them is a cheap shot at adopting more audacious measures to protect the spotted owls’ natural habitat.

“I believe that preserving old-growth forests and trying to rebuild destroyed habitat are the most crucial things to do in areas where spotted owls can and do live.” Best said, “That’s the possible long-term answer; it’s not a simple or fast one.

A final plan is anticipated in the spring or summer after the conclusion of the USFWS proposal’s public comment period.

By Jennifer


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