So, I'm at work, going through the newswires, and I just saw this....BC-US--Owl vs Owl, 1st Ld-Writethru,0599
Experiment to test killing 1 owl to help another....
Here's the full article if anyone is interested...
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) -- Federal biologists are designing an
experiment to see if killing the aggressive barred owl that has
invaded old growth forests of the Northwest would help the spotted
owl, which is protected.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday it is
doing a formal study to decide whether to do the experiment, and
laying out the terms if they go ahead. The study will be available
for public comment and is expected to be completed by fall 2010.
"This is to be done experimentally so we can nail down whether,
in fact, removing barred owls could improve spotted owl
demographics, and also to look into the feasibility of doing
that," said Fish and Wildlife biologist Robin Bown, who is
overseeing the evaluation.
The spotted owl went from a seldom-seen denizen of old growth
forests to the cover of Time magazine in the 1990s as
environmentalists forced the federal government to cut back logging
on Northwest national forests to protect its habitat.
Despite the cutbacks, spotted owls continue to decline, most
steeply where there are high populations of more aggressive barred
owls that are native to eastern North America.
Though killing one species to protect another is not uncommon --
on the West Coast, for instance, ravens are poisoned to protect
threatened snowy plovers -- a small-scale experiment with killing
barred owls in northern California in 2005 created an uproar.
So Fish and Wildlife held meetings with interest groups to
consider the ethical and moral implications of a larger experiment,
and secured their agreement to look into an experiment, Bown said.
"There is a range of opinions" among scientists and interest
groups, said Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Portland
Audubon Society, who took part in the ethical discussion. "We are
still struggling with where we come down.
The highest priority needs to be placed on avoiding extinction,
Sallinger said. But unless habitat protections continue for old
growth forests where the spotted owl lives, "killing barred owls
is not going to accomplish anything."
Scientists believe barred owls migrated from eastern Canada
across the Great Plains in the early 1900s, using forests that
popped up as people controlled wildfires and planted trees around
farms. They arrived in Washington in 1973, and their numbers have
taken off in the past decade.
Bigger, more aggressive and less picky about food and forests
than spotted owls, barred owls drove spotted owls to marginal
territories, sometimes mating with them and sometimes killing them.
Controlling barred owls was a central strategy of the Bush
administration's overhaul of the spotted owl recovery plan to make
way for more logging. That plan was challenged in court by
environmental groups and is being reconsidered by the Obama
Fish and Wildlife is considering doing the experiment in
existing spotted owl study areas near Cle Elum, Wash.; the Coast
Range of Oregon; and the Klamath Mountains of southwestern Oregon,
The work could involve trapping or killing barred owls in half
the area and comparing the reaction of spotted owls there to those
in the area still beset by barred owls, Bown said.
"If we are going to remove them, a shotgun will probably be the
method of choice, because it is most reliable," she said. "There
will be very strict conditions to have close to a 100 percent kill
rate. We don't want to be wounding animals. We don't want to be
teaching them. And we don't want to be removing nontarget
Public comments on what should be considered in the study will
be taken until Jan. 11.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)