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Judge orders revised spotted owl plan

A federal court judge in Washington, D.C., has ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must revise a Bush administration recovery plan for the northern spotted owl.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan on Wednesday ordered the federal agency to come up with a new recovery plan within nine months for the threatened bird, which has been at the center of a long battle over logging in the Northwest. The judge also required revisions to the owl’s critical habitat, which had been cut under the Bush administration.

The Obama administration had asked the federal court to send back the 2008 recovery and habitat plans, after reviewing records and an inspector general’s report finding potential political interference in owl protections by a former deputy assistant Interior secretary, Julie MacDonald.

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