In light of their decreasing population, the northern spotted own may have more protection soon, according to federal biologists on Wednesday.
The US FWS (Fish and Wildlife Service will make use of scientific data to find out whether or not to upgrade the currently threatened species to an ‘endangered’ listing in accordance with the Endangered Species Act.
Since the year 1990, when the northern spotted owl first made it to the list of the endangered species, it has been a symbol for ESA protections that harm local economics. Conservationists who want to protect the species from habitat loss won out against the logging industry, and logging cutbacks in order to protect the habitats of owls have put many Northwest timber timber towns into an economic tailspin.
According to FWS in Oregon, the northern spotted owl is believed to have inhabited many forests throughout the southwestern British Columbia, western Washington, Oregon, and northwestern California historically. Over the last 190 years, the habitat of these owls have reduced by around 60 percent.
However, this is not the only threat to this species. The incursion of the more-aggressive barred owl is a danger as well, since it competes with the spotted owl for territory, nesting grounds and food sources.
“The bad news is that the spotted owl population has continued to decline,” Paul Henson, supervisor for FWS in Oregon, told The Associated Press (AP). “The good news is we know why it is declining.”
The population of the spotted owl is estimated to be less than 4000. The FWS typically reviews the status of protected species every 5 years, and when the bird’s situation was last visited in 2011. However, at that time the agency felt it still warranted protection as a threatened species.