WASHINGTON (CN) – To protect the endangered spotted owl, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is calling for continued protection of old growth forests and the killing of barred owls, according to its updated recovery plan.
The listing of the spotted owl as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990 set off nearly two decades of legal and sometimes physical battles between conservationists, land owners, timber interests and the agency over logging bans in old-growth forests meant to protect the species’ habitat.
Recovery plans released in 1992 and 2008 were never fully implemented due to legal challenges. In December 2008, the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior issued a scathing report of the recovery plan saying that “the integrity of the agency decision making process for the [plan] was potentially jeopardized by improper political influence.”
After the Inspector General’s report, the agency asked U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan to remand the 2008 recovery plan to the agency to correct its faults. Sullivan agreed and the agency issued drafts of the plan in September, 2010.
The new recovery plan calls for expanding the land set aside for recovery efforts to 6.4 million acres across the Pacific Northwest and development of control programs to limit the invasion of barred owls an invasive species.
The plan estimates that the northern spotted owl could be fully recovered, and taken off the Endangered Species List, within the next 30 years at a cost of approximately $489 million.