U.S. Fish and Wildlife creates plan to Allow Killing of Half Million Barred Owls to Save Spotted Owls

“This is a problem that humans have created. This wasn’t nature happening on its own,” said a researcher from the Center of Conservation Biology at UC.

At first glance the problem appears to be that the Barred Owl is a danger to the Spotted Owl; limitations in habitat are leading the more aggressive Barred Owls to crowd out their shyer Spotted Owl cousins.

This combination of 2003 and 2006 photos shows a northern spotted owl, left, in the Deschutes National Forest near Camp Sherman, Ore., and a barred owl in East Burke, Vt

According to NPR,

“A proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to kill roughly half a million barred owls to protect the spotted owl has conservationists and animal welfare advocates debating the moral issue of killing one species to protect another. 

The proposal, published in November, garnered attention in recent days after dozens of wildlife protection and animal welfare organizations signed a letter opposing the plan. In a March 25 letter responding to the proposal, a group of 75 organizations urged Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, to scrap what it calls a “reckless” plan. “Non-lethal management actions to protect spotted owls and their habitats should be made the priority action,” it read.

The barred owl is crowding out its less aggressive relative, the northern spotted owl, in the Northwestern states, according to the USFWS. To ensure the survival of the northern spotted owl, a threatened species, the service is proposing the mass removal of over 470,000 barred owls across California, Washington and Oregon over a three-decade span. The proposed action will also help prevent declines in the California spotted owls, another species facing competition from barred owls, it said.

While still in its early stages, the proposal calls for shooting an estimated 470,900 barred owls — primarily with shotguns — across land in Washington, Oregon and California over the next 30 years.

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