Feds Plan to Expand Barred Owl Removals

From the Seattle Times via this site…. Excerpts below. Draft EIS here. The 60-day public comment period will close January 16, 2024.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to enlist shooters to kill more than 500,000 barred owls over the next 30 years in the Pacific Northwest to preserve habitat for northern spotted owls, a protected species.

The goal of a draft environmental impact statement for the agency’s barred owl reduction program is to take out the owls in the northern spotted owl’s range in Washington and Oregon and to focus on heading off expansion of the barred owl into the range of the California spotted owl.

Assuming complete implementation of the proposal, an initial cull of about 20,000 barred owls would occur in the first year. Then, an annual reduction of 13,397 birds a year in the first decade of the program; 16,303 a year in the second decade and 17,390 birds each year in the third decade, in parts of Washington, Oregon and California — 11 to 14 million acres in all.


5 thoughts on “Feds Plan to Expand Barred Owl Removals”

  1. Why not just stop burning thousands of acres of old growth spotted owl habitat. One burn out on the August Complex burned hundreds of thousands of acres of prime old growth habitat and destroyed hundreds of spotted owl nesting cores. The burn out was started in the afternoon of September 26 on a day with extreme ERCs and BIs and a red flag warning for the next several days due to low humidity and high east winds.

    • The Chief summed it up: “I’m pleased to report that we have made significant progress in implementing this daring and critical strategy,” Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said on the agency’s website.“. There’s your answer.

  2. This is crazy. Spending millions of taxpayer dollars in an attempt to retain racial purity in a brown-eyed owl population commonly referred to as “hoot owls” until the government came up with calling them BOs, WSOs, and other acronyms. Whatever happened to good sense, survival of the fittest, and “eat what you kill?”

    This topic was discussed in this forum 10 years ago and never seems to go away: https://forestpolicypub.com/2013/06/19/spotted-owls-the-spotty-sciences-that-spawned-them-5-questions-2/

  3. And I also wrote about a genetic study here https://forestpolicypub.com/2021/07/25/did-barred-owls-move-into-western-forests-in-the-last-century-new-genetic-evidence-suggests-not/

    “These findings on evolutionary and demographic history of BOs are also important for conservation of SOs since little was known about the history of their “invasive” species, BOs. So far, it has been believed that the habitat loss in the eastern part of the North America caused the migration of BOs to the west. But if BOs have lived in Canadian forests for a long time, their recent invasion to the range of SOs might be due to different reasons, such as the recent loss of boreal forests caused by the climate change and human activities (Gauthier et al. 2015).”

    Or perhaps they started moving south during the Little Ice Age (1800s) and it took awhile? Lots of possibilities. And we might be collecting data on, and arguing about, the answer, farther into the future than any investment we would be making in controlling barred owl populations.

  4. “One burn out (I assume aka “backfire”) on the August Complex burned hundreds of thousands of acres of prime old growth habitat…”
    I grow curiouser… does the FS track how much of annual acreage burned is due to burnouts? With project fires difficult to corral, I know this technique is widely employed. But I’m not aware of any data summarizing consequences,
    Jeanne Pincha-Tulley (ret. Type I IC) told me a few years ago that often the 1st 2-3 days on big fires dealt primarily with people mgmt (eg evac/traffic control) and structure protection tactics and strategy before real energy could be devoted to the fire itself. Also, that backfires were “enormous” and yielded mixed results while contending with high wind issues. A reason why aerial show is, well… precisely that; often a “show” of good intentions, with little discernible effect.


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