Spotted owls back in the news

Spotted Owl: Spotted owl (Courtesy John and Karen Hollingsworth, US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Spotted Owl: Spotted owl (Courtesy John and Karen Hollingsworth, US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Remember the spotted owl? Back in the 80s and 90s, the spotted owl was in the news quite a bit when it was designated an endangered species and its habitat, the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, was protected. Given that the habitat of the spotted owl was also the source of income for a large number of people in the region, environmentalists, politicians, and area residents squared off. It was, and continues to be, a contentious issue. While protecting the habitat of the spotted owl makes sense, does it continue to make sense if it is at the expense of the livelihoods of hundreds of families? This issue is discussed in detail in the Hunters of the Sky exhibition, which will be at the Science Museum this fall.

The spotted owl made news again recently, this time because US Fish and Wildlife service had planned to hire a contractor to develop a recovery plan for the spotted owl, but due to federal budget cuts now finds that it will have to develop the plan on its own. Seems weird to me that this would be something that the US Fish and Wildlife would contract out, and it also seems weird that a plan for the species had not even been developed yet. I know that the issue is controversial, but it has been over 15 years since the owl was designated an endangered species – it would seem that a plan for saving an animal from extinction would be something that would need to be developed quickly. However, lawsuits have kept the plan in limbo while the spotted owl population continues to dwindle through loss of habitat from wildfires, disease, and competition from the barred owl for nests. The decision could be made for us if something is not done soon.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This is Douglas Zeman(12 years old) and I have an idea about saving the Spotted Owl, well it's going to have stop hunting animals I mean the reason why all of the animals are coming extinct is because were killing them with all the hunting seasons if we don't stop every thing WILL go extinct so if we don't act now everything will be endangered sooner or later

posted on Fri, 04/07/2006 - 11:04am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

do you have any pictures of spotted owl eggs, or at least a description of them?

posted on Wed, 11/28/2007 - 9:55pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I did a little searching myself. You're right: descriptions of Northern spotted owl eggs are rare (and vague when you find them), and photos seem to be non-existant.

So I E-mailed the naturalist staff at Mount Ranier National Park. And wildlife ecologist Jim Schaberl wrote me back:

"Hi, Liza,
Photos of Northern spotted owl eggs are pretty rare. In most of the species range, they next in cavities high up in very large trees. Cavity nesters have some pretty basic colored eggs. Some others that may have photos and descriptions include Paul Erlich ("The Birder's Handbook") and Paul Johnsgard ("North American Owls").

If this doesn't suffice, there are regional Northern spotted owl experts that probably have climbed trees to photograph nests."

He gave me contact information for one of those regional experts, so I'll write him next!

posted on Mon, 12/03/2007 - 2:30pm
Joe's picture
Joe says:

Other than the one above? Try creative commons or the US Fish and Wildlife image site.

Also, follow the links.

posted on Wed, 11/28/2007 - 10:46pm
KW Greulich's picture
KW Greulich says:

I am a Forester and have spent over 95% of my career working for the US Forest Service since the 1970s. when the spotted owl became an issue in Oregon and Washington. During that time I have seen the owls in the wild in 2 locations. First was in the middle of an area that had a wildfire about 40 years previously where a young owl had fallen from the nest onto a paved road, one of the most travelled on the district and over 2 miles from any old growth. The other was a recurring sighting where a pair of owls would perch on a fence between a Forest Service clearcut and pasture land where they swooped between the legs of cows for mice. The owl has put thousands out of work, and ruined the economy of the Pacific Northwest.

posted on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 10:45am

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