US to kill half a million barred owls to save spotted owl

US to kill half a million barred owls to save spotted owl

United States wildlife officials have proposed a plan to kill half a million barred owls to save spotted owls. The plan is facing objections from animal welfare organizations.

Wildlife officials aim to save one species of owl, the spotted owl, by reducing the number of another species, the barred owl. Why? Because the two types of owls are in competition, and the spotted owl is losing.

The spotted owl lives in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, including states like California, Washington, and Oregon. These owls depend on old, large trees for their habitat. Many of these trees have been cut down by humans.

The barred owl, slightly larger and more robust, began encroaching on the spotted owl’s territory. The barred owl is able to thrive in varied environments and consume a broader range of food compared to the spotted owl. As a result, when both owl species inhabit the same area, the barred owl typically survives better.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, a government agency responsible for wildlife conservation, has drafted a plan to support the spotted owl. Their strategy involves selectively killing barred owls in certain regions, which they believe will enhance the spotted owls’ survival and recovery prospects.

However, the plan has sparked controversy. Representatives from 75 wildlife and animal welfare organizations have urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider their plan. They argue that the plan is ethically questionable and logistically flawed, lacking precedent in practical wildlife management.

Concerns include the risk of killing other owl species by mistake, potential disruptions to the ecosystem, and the use of lead ammunition, which could harm other wildlife. The groups suggest focusing on non-lethal methods and habitat protection for the spotted owls instead of killing the barred owls, which have expanded their range naturally.

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