The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says today it will test removing barred owls to help the threatened spotted owl. The agency has proposed shooting barred owls in four study areas.
Barred owls out-compete spotted owls for food and nesting sites. As they’ve spread across the northwest, they appear to be pushing the spotted owl toward extinction.
But biologists don’t know how many barred owls are out there. Or if it’s practical to remove them. And that’s the point of the experiment, says Robin Bown, with Fish and Wildlife.
“To determine how feasible it is to remove barred owls. How much effort is involved, how quickly they recover, they come back, and what kind of effect that has on spotted owls.”
The four-year experiment will take place near Cle Elum in Washington, Eugene and Canyonville in Oregon, and Eureka, Calif.
Bown says the agency considered relocating barred owls instead of shooting them, but couldn’t find any other states willing to take the birds.
Copyright 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting