Feds to Kill Over 3,600 Barred Owls in 3 States

Pop quiz Friday: How much money does it take to eliminate 3,603 barred owls from select Pacific Northwest zones to make more room for the endangered spotted owl? Well, if you're the federal government, $3 million over the next four years.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, using a permit allowing the killing of non-game birds, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to conduct an experiment over three states to see if by decreasing the number of barred owls (a bird that migrated to the Northwest from the East Coast) will make room for spotted owls (a bird at the center of a heated debate between loggers and environmentalists) to flourish.

"Shooting a few isolated areas of barred owl isn't going to help us as forest managers, nor is it going to help the forest be protected from wildfires, and catastrophic wildfire is one of the big impediments to spotted owl recovery," Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group, told the Associated Press.

Robin Brown, a federal wildlife biologist disagrees and says in some areas, barred owls outnumber spotted owls 5 to 1, and killing them might be the only way to put number back into balance.

"We're not sending public hunters into the woods to declare open season on the barred owl. This is a controlled experiment, using folks who are trained and skilled at animal removal. Our goal in this experiment is twofold: Will moving barred owls help the spotted owl population to recover? And can we use removal of barred owls as a management tool?"

CC image from Flickr