Skip to comments.Owl decline in Sonora raises concerns (ENVIRO WACKO ALERT)
Posted on 03/07/2005 4:46:56 PM PST by SandRat
Could affect option to import, replenish stock of Ariz. birds.
The pygmy owl population dropped sharply during the past five years in northern Sonora, a new study has concluded.
The findings could spell trouble for U.S. government plans to possibly import northern Mexican birds to enhance Arizona's small cactus ferruginous pygmy owl population, said two University of Arizona researchers who wrote the study.
The study doesn't play directly into legal issues that have the Arizona owl's endangered status in limbo, they said. But its results make it important to protect the Arizona and Sonoran populations, said the researchers at UA's School of Natural Resources.
The study raises questions of whether Sonoran owls can serve as a backstop if Arizona's owl population loses federal protection, said researchers Robert Steidl and Aaron Flesch.
"It concerns me, if we abandon the owls in the United States, what the consequences will be if we rely on birds in Mexico?" said Steidl, an associate wildlife ecology professor.
The male owl count fell from 55 in 2000 to 28 in 2004, in researchers' surveys of four northern Sonora areas within 46 miles of Arizona. In between, the annual counts were 32, 36 and 37.
In the only statewide Sonoran population count, the researchers found 280 owls in 2000. The bird is common in the western Mexican coastal states of Sinaloa and Nayarit.
Arizona's surveyed owl population dropped from 41 in 1999 to 18 each of the past three years, plus 10 total documented sightings on the Tohono O'odham Reservation since 1999.
Today, the listing is in jeopardy from a 2003 federal court ruling that the U.S. government hasn't shown that Arizona owls are a significant and genetically distinct enough population compared with Mexican owls. A final court decision is pending.
Reviewers of this study for the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association concluded that too few owls were surveyed to draw real conclusions, said Roger Yohem, a SAHBA vice president who declined to name the reviewers.
SAHBA's suit has tied up the listing in court, and SAHBA paid for a separate owl study in 2003.
But the new study offers a serious warning that something is going on with the bird, said Jenny Neeley, Southwest associate for Defenders of Wildlife, which has intervened in court to preserve the listing. If the population is falling on both sides of the border, "there's no justification for de-listing," she said.
Even if the listing goes away, importing birds is one of several tools the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider to boost Arizona's population. It will decide how at the end of 2005, after making a proposal, getting public comment and ensuring that its plan won't increase land use regulations, said Sherry Barrett, a service field supervisor.
Helping finance the $40,000 study was the Desert Southwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit at UA. It represents 15 universities, federal agencies and nonprofit groups. T&E Inc., a nonprofit, Albuquerque-based company, and the wildlife service also contributed. The researchers have submitted the study for publication in the Journal of Wildlife Management.
Scott Richardson, a service wildlife biologist, said he won't comment on the study until talking with the researchers or until it completes peer review for publication.
The UA researchers say drought may have helped cause the Sonoran decline. But they also found the drop worsened near farms, timber-cutting, homes and non-native grasses.
It may take more study to determine if this is a long-term decline, the researchers acknowledged. But the number of owls studied isn't the problem, Steidl said. By finding a pattern of decline across northern Sonora, they have enough evidence to know they studied enough owls, he said.
Honest Pygmy Owls really do taste just like chicken.
Bush's fault. He likes 'em BBQ'd.
Over Mesquite coals with West Texas B'BQ Sauce.
Yeah that's it. The owls only graze on certain native grass.
Oh, you just had to ping me to this thread, didn't you :)
My screen name is in honor of all the folks who lost their livelihood, thanks to a pest called the spotted owl. Ship the damn things to Sonora, and let the logging industry roll again.
Can you BBQ the darn things??
The illegal aliens are eating them.
What do you know about this?
When it comes to the ENVIROS think RAINBOW SIX
Yep and the the Woodbadge Patrol name for my class WE4-11-04 Owls and we used the Spotted Owl as our totum.
There's room for all God's creatures . . . right next to the mashed potatoes.
Ya think the huge forest fires that wiped out the wildlands two years ago might have something to do with the decline in bird population? I think ecologists should major in biology, not political science.
I lay this and every single other problem related to the Temple University Football Program at the feet of erstwhile sodomite, Temple President David Adamany.
"You know, I'm going to start thanking
the woman who cleans the restroom in
the building I work in. I'm going to start
thinking of her as a human being"
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