Hooting and Howling for Owls and Wolves in California
Recently, the California Fish and Game Commission made two decisions that are cause for more hooting and howling in Wild California. First, the commission voted to accept EPIC’s petition to list the Northern Spotted Owl under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), triggering an evaluation by the Department of Fish and Game that will be delivered to the commission in advance of a public hearing in February 2012. The State of California has never acted to protect the Northern Spotted Owl under CESA, despite clear declines throughout the species range in California, as well as the remainder of the range. It is now time for the State of California to recognize its duties under CESA, and based on the overwhelming evidence, act swiftly to protect the Northern Spotted Owl. Without a more holistic view of species recovery and landscape-scale conservation, the owl is likely to go extinct in the foreseeable future. Within California alone, EPIC has identified numerous logging proposals on both private and public lands that will destroy or degrade spotted owl habitat. For example, on private lands owned by Sierra Pacific Industries, EPIC has identified over 27 timber harvest plans that are currently ongoing or proposed that will destroy over 7,000 acres of spotted owl habitat. Notably, the ongoing destruction of Northern Spotted Owl habitat by Sierra Pacific Industries is taking place without an incidental take permit as required under the ESA. EPIC has formally notified Sierra Pacific Industries with letter of intent to sue over violations of the ESA. Meanwhile, state and federal agencies have been aware of this ongoing harm, but have failed to act. The overall habitat destruction on Sierra Pacific Industries and other private lands in northern California has resulted in the abandonment of dozens of historic spotted owl territories. Those that remain are mostly all severely deficient in suitable habitat, particularly nesting and roosting habitat made up of older forests. With the Department of Fish and Game evaluation process, EPIC intends to bring these injustices into the light of day.