Skip to comments.Endangered [Spotted] Owl Now Threatened by Rival Species
Posted on 05/14/2004 10:01:28 AM PDT by Incorrigible
Endangered Owl Now Threatened by Rival Species
BY MICHAEL MILSTEIN
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The northern spotted owl, whose protection under the Endangered Species Act since 1990 helped push logging of federal lands to near collapse, is faring worse now than it was five years ago, a new assessment has found.
Spotted owl numbers have fallen by roughly half over the past decade in parts of Washington and Oregon's Warm Springs Reservation, and they have dwindled by nearly a quarter in sections of Oregon's Coast and Cascade ranges. In only a few areas are the owls holding their own.
"Things are not getting better," said Eric Forsman, a research biologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station and an author of the new findings, the first in five years.
There are signs that a proliferation of barred owls may in places have become a greater factor in the spotted owl's demise than habitat destruction from logging. Barred owls are larger and more aggressive, pushing the spotted owls from their nesting areas.
The barred owl was scarcely considered when the Clinton administration in 1994 imposed a blueprint for Northwest forests that set aside millions of acres as reserves for the spotted owl and other species known to dwell amid old-growth trees. Called the Northwest Forest Plan, it reshaped a once-booming logging economy that had removed most original old growth.
Officials said the forest plan itself may need revision to account for new pressures such as barred owls, which have moved in most prominently in Washington.
Timber groups, meanwhile, question the value of setting aside forests if spotted owls are no longer using them.
"If the habitat is being occupied by a more aggressive cousin, all the other work is meaningless," said Chris West of the American Forest Resource Council in Portland.
The Bush administration wants to increase federal lands logging to bring it in line with the output projections of the forest plan.
The owl findings emerge as federal authorities conduct a review forced by the timber industry to consider whether the owl deserves continued protection. Officials emphasized that the new results are preliminary and have not yet been reviewed by independent scientists; such a peer review is planned in coming weeks.
Although the study documents continued declines among owls in most of 14 study sites in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, it does not specify the reasons for them.
"The disconcerting part of it to me is that right now we can't pin it to any specific cause," said Jim Golden, deputy regional forester with the U.S. Forest Service. "We'd like to know the answers so we can make whatever changes are needed in the Northwest Forest Plan."
Scientists who worked on the plan expected spotted owl numbers would decline over as much as several decades before forests aged into the kind of old-growth habitat owls are thought to favor. But they did not expect the crashes in owl populations now witnessed in Washington.
Numbers of northern spotted owls have fallen an average of about 7.5 percent a year in Washington since 1990, 2.8 percent in Oregon and 2.2 percent in California. There was an average 2.5 percent fall on federal lands compared with a 6.6 percent decline on state, tribal and private lands, suggesting increased wildlife precautions on federal lands may have slowed their drop.
Biologists said the drops in Oregon and California are slow enough that the species might hold on there for decades, but it likely cannot survive many years of the sharp drops it has endured in Washington.
"If that continues for very long, you rapidly lose your population," Forsman said.
The drops are puzzling in part because much of the old growth freed up for cutting by the Northwest Forest Plan has not been cut due to protests and legal battles, although the Bush administration is now pressing for such cutting to proceed.
"It's hard to blame the decline on harvest on federal lands," Forsman said.
He noted the findings did not weigh the effects of logging on nearby private lands or take into account the effects of large wildfires in recent years.
The study results will be discussed Thursday at a meeting in Portland that is part of the review of owl protections.
The new study involved 32,054 sightings or captures of 11,432 banded owls; it was commissioned by an interagency group that oversees the Northwest Forest Plan and is measuring the success of the plan's first decade. It is one piece of a three-part examination of what is happening to northern spotted owls and their habitat.
May 14, 2004
(Michael Milstein is a staff writer for The Oregonian of Portland, Ore. He can be contacted at email@example.com.)
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Scientists who worked on the plan...
Isn't it a stretch to call these people who employ junk science to get their way "scientists"?
The path of destruction behind the Clinton tornado continues unabated.
Some animals are just supposed to go extinct. That's how it works.
"Reject the world, and everything in it, for my kingdom is not of it"
Did we forget to tell the Barred Owl that the Spotted Owl was protected?
What a half baked plan.
Spotted Owls are great; I usually have them with white wine.
Quick, someone tell the Barred Owl that it is in fact barred from the spotted neighbourhood.
That'll teach them. I can't believe how retarded that stupid bird is.
"Spotted owl numbers have fallen by roughly half over the past decade in parts of Washington ......."
Well, all I can tell you is that they are low in cholesterol, high in protean, added salt is not needed and they taste like chicken.
If it saves just one Spotted Owl, it will be worth it.
May the fittest species survive. It's not nice to fool with Mother evolution.
"and they taste just like chicken."
LOL! Doesn't everything?
The very people who worship evolution pretend the power and wisdom to arrest the process of natural selection.
cut the trees, make the spotted owl get some sun, the mold will disapear, no more spots, problem solved!
I just don't believe there is anyway to stop a species, any species from going extinct. To do so, is ludicrous and only inviting problems.
We would probably call it an intention, which etymologically is the same root meaning as stretch.
His whole point was that the wussy Spotted Owl was being screwed, starved and intimidated worse than prisoners in an Iraqi prison!!! Those New York owls were taught to fly in terrorist flying schools and were even flying their larger bodies into the nests of Northern Spotted Owls and laying waste to their priceless eggs!!!
The films were to be played on Letterman in his favorite sequence called "Is This Anything?" Dave nixed the idea in favor of his cherished "Grinder Girl" who is obviously from the Middle East.
He almost considered moving it to "Stupid Pet Tricks" but knew better after reviewing EnvironMentalism in general and preferred airing it in the "Stupid Human Tricks" along with that British "Butterfly" gal sitting atop a giant pine tree!!!
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