PORTLAND - Federal wildlife officials looking to protect the spotted owl will likely recommend shooting the endangered species' biggest threat, a newspaper report says.
Along with habitat loss, barred owls are the biggest threat to spotted owls, which are federally protected. That sets up a wrenching decision splitting wildlife biologists and environmentalists.
“There’s no winner in that debate,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director with the Portland Audubon Society.
A draft environmental impact statement to be ready by summer most likely will recommend shooting the larger owls, according to The Oregonian. Over the next year, 1,200 to 1,500 barred owls in three or more study areas from Washington to Northern California might be killed under the plan.
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A Fish and Wildlife Service group was drafting a parallel environmental impact statement on killing barred owls.
“Population dynamics between two native species should not be artificially manipulated,” said Blake Murden, wildlife and fisheries director for Port Blakely Tree Farms in Tumwater, who opposes the plan.
The spotted owl is a conservation icon. Its 1990 listing as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act was the first to have such broad economic, social and environmental impact.