Monday, September 21, 2015

Wildlife groups seek federal protection for the California spotted owl

By LOUIS SAHAGUN
Los Angeles Times, 09/18/15.

California spotted owl (Tom Gallagher)
In the latest round in a 15-year legal battle to keep the California spotted owl safe from U.S. Forest Service logging policies, federal wildlife authorities have agreed to reconsider an earlier decision to deny the timid raptor protection under the Endangered Species Act.

In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined there was inconclusive evidence that spotted owl populations in the Sierra Nevada range and the mountains of Southern California were in decline or threatened by logging operations.

New research, however, indicates that thinning and post-fire salvage logging are "the main threat to the spotted owls' survival," according to a petition for listing filed late last year by the Wild Nature Institute and the John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute.

On Friday, Fish and Wildlife agreed that listing may be warranted for the owl, known by scientists as Strix occidentalis occidentalis.

The agency said that is because the owl population of about 1,200 pairs – most of them on Forest Service lands subject to extensive logging -- is so small it has "an impoverished gene pool." Officials also agreed that owl habitat loss and fragmentation from logging may exacerbate threats posed by climate change, invasive species and development. READ MORE >>>