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US considers program to hunt owls to protect other owls

U.S. officials are considering issuing hunting permits to help limit the West Coast population of invasive barred owls.
US considers program to hunt owls to protect other owls
Posted at 9:52 AM, Dec 08, 2023

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is putting together a plan to reduce the population of barred owls on the West Coast, which have invaded the habitats of spotted owls. 

The service says that barred owls have grown in population in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, causing the spotted owl population to decline. Wildlife officials say the barred owls are now considered invasive.

The barred owls are native to the East Coast, but have hunted small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, earthworms, snails, slugs, insects, and crayfish. 

The USFWS have proposed several remedies, which include using hunters to kill barred owls. The announcement comes after a study found removing barred owls helps restore spotted owl populations. 

“We’ve been working with partners to manage northern and California spotted owl habitat for years, but we also urgently need a management tool that addresses the increasing barred owl threat,” said Kessina Lee, state supervisor for the USFWS' Oregon office. “If finalized, this management strategy and associated permit would provide a mechanism for willing Tribes, agencies, companies, or individuals to implement barred owl management on their lands.” 

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The biggest difference between the various proposals is where to focus on starting to eliminate the barred owl population. The Barred Owl Management Strategy has proposed focusing on Northern California to help prevent the southern spread of the barred owls. 

Implementing the plan could take up to 30 years. Officials say it would take that long to analyze whether the program is accomplishing its desired goal of restoring native populations affected by barred owls. 

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