|Barred Owls (source)|
Feds plan to shoot barred owls
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction.I wrote about this plan in 2011. My opinions haven't changed.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing barred owls will allow northern spotted owls to reclaim territory they've been driven out of over the past half-century. The agency has been evaluating the idea since 2009, gathering public comment and consulting ethicists, focus groups and scientific studies. It will issue a final decision on the plan in a month.
"If we don't manage barred owls, the probability of recovering the spotted owl goes down significantly," said Paul Henson, Oregon state supervisor for Fish and Wildlife.
The agency's preferred course of action calls for killing 3,603 barred owls in four study areas in Oregon, Washington and Northern California over the next four years. The plan is expected to cost about $3 million and requires a special permit under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits killing nongame birds.
And in other dead bird news, the Federal government continues to tolerate high bird losses, particularly the loss of large and charismatic bird to wind power generators, that they would not tolerate for less prosaic power producers:
A new study found that the federal government underestimated the number of birds that die colliding with wind turbines across the country.
In fact, bird deaths were found to be 30 percent higher than previous estimates given by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2009.
“I estimated 888,000 bat and 573,000 bird fatalities/year (including 83,000 raptor fatalities) at 51,630 megawatt (MW) of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States in 2012,” writes K. Shawn Smallwood, author of the study that was published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.
“Despite numerous violations, the Obama administration — like the Bush administration before it — has unofficially exempted the wind industry from prosecution under the Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts,” wrote the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce. “By exempting the wind industry from prosecution under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or the Eagle Protection Act, the federal government is providing another indirect subsidy to the sector.”
In 2009, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of killing 85 federally protected birds and agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees. That same year, Oregon-based PacifiCorp was also fined $1.4 million for the killing of 232 eagles in Wyoming, which were electrocuted by the company’s power lines.
“What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK,” said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent who helped prosecute the PacifiCorp.
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