Since the spotted owl’s listing under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1990, site occupancy, reproduction, and apparent survival have continued to decline. Despite the development of conservation efforts such as: the Northwest Forest Plan, spotted owl habitat continues to be lost at a frightening pace, particularly on privately owned forestlands throughout Washington, Oregon, and California. Habitat loss and loss of site occupancy on private lands is greatly accelerated when compared to federal lands.
A new threat to spotted owl survival and recovery has now come to the forefront. The invasion of aggressive and competitive Barred Owls into Northern Spotted Owl territories has caused great alarm. Barred Owls are taking over valuable spotted owl habitat, and are known to harass spotted owls to the point of home range abandonment. Predictably, recent research shows that logging and forest fragmentation exacerbates the negative impacts of Barred Owls.
The 2011 Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl contains several recommendations for survival and recovery of the owl, including preserving more habitat in core areas, mainly within private lands. Increased habitat retention is thought to be a primary mechanism to mitigate the effects of the Barred Owl invasion, while the Fish and Wildlife Service considers a plan to experimentally eradicate this competitive species.
EPIC continues to advocate for the protection of spotted owls and spotted owl habitat across the species’ range in California both on private and public lands. Conservation of older forests and protecting core habitats for the spotted owl are essential for the survival and recovery of this species. Check out our Spotted Owl Self-Defense page for additional articles and information relating to the impacts of industrial forestry on Northern Spotted Owls.