The experimental lethal removal of Barred Owls from forested areas previously or currently inhabited by the native Northern Spotted Owl has received a fair amount of media coverage, and has even been the topic of a segment on the well-known Comedy Central show The Colbert Report (see embedded video below). EPIC has been approached on several instances by media outlets, conservation community colleagues, and members and supporters of our organization requesting an articulation of our position on this experimental lethal removal project. The text following the video is an EPIC position statement on this rapidly changing and important issue.
EPIC Position Statement on Experimental Barred Owl Removal to Study Effects on Northern Spotted Owls
EPIC chose not to oppose the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) proposal to experimentally remove barred owls from the wild to study the effects on Northern Spotted Owls (NSO). Our organization has assessed the project plan, and monitored implementation. EPIC has come to the conclusion that the proposed use of lethal removal methods is cruel, will most likely prove to be ineffective over the long term without very serious habitat conservation mechanisms, and failing to prioritize habitat conservation the lethal removal of barred owls will most likely prove over time to be extremely expensive to implement. We also have come to the conclusion that the use of non-lethal removal methods remains impractical. Fundamentally, the USFWS has incorrectly chosen to focus its efforts on trying to solve the barred owl invasive competition problem, while failing to include adequate recovery measures to address chronic and ongoing NSO habitat loss. The USFWS has failed to provide NSO critical habitat designation to millions of acres of private industrial forestlands across the northwest, and has failed to provide adequate protective measures for NSO habitat on public lands. These failures assure that NSO habitat loss will continue to be the primary threat to the survival and recovery of Northern Spotted Owls in the wild. Recovering the NSO requires a more aggressive effort to protect existing habitat, on public and private lands. EPIC therefore recommends that the USFWS focus its efforts, as well as limited financial resources, on improving recovery measures and regulatory mechanisms to protect Northern Spotted Owl habitat across the landscape.