Spotted Owl, Barred Owl, a true conservation biologist's dilema
- I was surprised to hear that Green Diamond had already started taking Barred Owls as part of a more regional study of how this may help increase Spotted Owl numbers if the Barred Owls are lethally removed.
It is a very tough nut to crack as removing animals cannot be maintained ad-infinitum, and in some cases, such as Coyotes, it simply stimulates a much greater reproductive output by the problem species.
But, what can one do to protect a known endangered species? As an owl biologist for over 20 years myself, I know that Green Diamond, the USFWS, and other parties such as HSU apply a rigorous scientific approach to these matters. So for now as a study for "science" and if the Federal agency in charge of protecting wildlife approves then is not illegal or unethical otherwise one would have to halt all animal deaths as a result of scientific research. I have more questions about the long term sustainability of such a program. It is a definate dilema, and I'm glad I don't have to make the decisions, just respond to the determinations of my fellow biologists.
I did read the article and it gave a good balanced approach to the argument, quoting the right people who are in the thick of this. However the statement that timber harvest is a greater threat to Spotted Owls is not correct.
Don't quote me, because I don't have a PHd, or all the demographic details at my disposal. However, lots of studies and lots of qualified biologists, many from established universities conducted the legally required range-wide analysis for an endangered species a few years back. This was a tome indeed, but it clearly stated that Barred Owls were currently the greatest threat to Spotted Owls. This is not me, it's the best science, the USFWS and the law can provide.
So, I tell you something, I'm looking forward to our upcoming seasonal owl meetings. Surveying for spotted owls and their protection had sort of become "old hat" compared to how it was in the early 90's. But, boy has it risen to the top of the concern/controversy pile these days.
Finally, I hope folks don't "kill the messenger" as I'm just stating what I've read. I'm neither behind the trigger or gassing up the chainsaw, but I do still want to come down to Mendocino this weekend and bird it up with you guys.
Yours Rob Hewitt
ps. check out www.godwitdays.org our new web site one can even sign up for a Spotted Owl trip this April.