Northern Spotted Owl Habitat Being Attacked Again

In an assault on the environment and the laws that protect it, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed a reduction in the habitat of the northern spotted owl, according to the Portland Audubon Society as reported by Danny Peterson of KOIN news. This two percent reduction of lands would include over 200,000 acres – some from Bureau of Land Management lands and some from tribal lands.  

In a press release, this move is justified by the Secretary of the Interior claiming the government can “exclude certain areas from critical habitat for economic, national security or other relevant factors so long as such exclusion does not cause the species to go extinct.” 

According to Robyn Thorson, USFWS Regional Director for the Columbia-Pacific Northwest, “The proposed exclusions will allow fuels management and sustainable timber harvesting to move forward … To strike this balance, the Service employed the best available science and worked closely with federal, state and tribal partners to evaluate needed exclusions, meet our legal obligations and update management plans.” 

Many in Oregon disagree with this assessment.  

“The Trump administration’s decision to reduce habitat protections is an absolute disgrace,” Audubon Society’s Conservation Director Bob Sallinger told KOIN.  

Sallinger brought up the Trump administration’s attempt to eliminate bird protections in South Carolina by removing “incidental take” provisions that would hold industries accountable for killing birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 as an example of what the federal government has been trying to do to protected lands.  

“This is the most comprehensive assault on our environmental protections that we’ve ever seen. And it’s being done entirely at the behest of big industry,” Sallinger said. 

The proposal for a change in northern spotted owl habitat is open for public comment for 60 days at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website. At the time of this writing, where to make comment was supposed to be here, but could not be readily found.