Feds OK plan to kill one type of owl to save another

By Michael Doyle | 07/03/2024 01:49 PM EDT

The Fish and Wildlife Service said that without the action, the northern spotted owl could go extinct.

A barred owl in the woods outside Philomath, Oregon.

A barred owl in the woods outside Philomath, Oregon. Don Ryan/AP

The Fish and Wildlife Service is sticking to its guns with a strategy announced Wednesday that calls for killing thousands of barred owls in order to protect the threatened northern spotted owl.

Though the agency slightly recalibrated its original proposal in response to more than 8,600 public comments, the final barred owl management strategy retains a reliance on what the Fish and Wildlife Service calls “lethal removal.” The strategy involves luring the owls out with calls and shooting them.

“Barred owl management is not about one owl versus another,” Kessina Lee, Oregon state office supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement. “Without actively managing barred owls, northern spotted owls will likely go extinct in all or the majority of their range, despite decades of collaborative conservation efforts.”


The northern spotted owl was at the center of a highly publicized and contentious fight between conservationists and the timber industry during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1990, the owl was listed as a threatened species, though it is now edging close to extinction.