An experiment to see if killing invasive barred owls will help the threatened northern spotted owl reverse its decline toward extinction is underway in the forests of Northern California.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday that specially trained biologists have shot 26 barred owls in a study area on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation northeast of Arcata, Calif.
One bird is expanding its range at the possible expense of another. Why should the federal government be involved. It's happened down through geological history that a species better suited to an environment displaces another that is less fit. That's part of the process of evolution. That's why we have birds instead of dinosaurs, and why we exist at all. Just ask Neandertal Man. Oh that's right, you can't; he's extinct.
They plan to remove as many as 118 barred owls from the area, keeping the 55 known barred owl nesting sites open over the next five years to see if spotted owls increase, said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Robin Bown. Contractors go to an area that barred owls are known to be in, play a digital caller to attract them, and shoot the birds with a shotgun.
The service is spending $3.5 million over six years to remove 3,600 barred owls from sites in Oregon, Washington and California.
Barred owls migrated from the East in the 1950s and have become the single biggest threat to spotted owl survival.