E&E News has an article today about a study in the American Ornithological Society’s journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications, which shows that “over the past 20 years, northern spotted owls have disappeared from half the areas they once occupied in Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park.”
“This study demonstrated that even when high-quality habitat was readily available, the presence of Barred Owls was negatively correlated with the dynamics of Spotted Owls,” the authors wrote.
“Barred Owls are now competing with Northern Spotted Owls for food and space, and increased Barred Owl densities are associated with declines in Northern Spotted Owl populations across their range,” said Katie Dugger, a co-author of the report and a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.
“In 1994, a conservation plan covering the owls’ territory was put in place. Since then, the spotted owls in Mount Rainier have lived with no significant threat from logging, wildfires or other human-related dangers that may be present in other spots across the species’ range from California to British Columbia.
“Along with significant territorial changes, the authors found that the population of spotted owls in the Mount Rainier region appears to be shrinking. They wrote that the park contains “some of the oldest intact forest habitat available to Northern Spotted Owls in the Washington Cascade Range, yet only 18 adult owls were detected on the study area in 2016, down from a high of 30 owls in 1998.”