Cousins of threatened owls may be thinned out
Plan calls for shooting spotted owl's cousin
PORTLAND (AP) — A few hundred aggressive cousins of the threatened northern spotted owl may be rubbed out by government agents with shotguns under a federal plan proposed Thursday.
The spotted owl was listed as threatened 17 years ago, but its numbers continue to dwindle through much of its range, federal officials said as they proposed a new plan to prevent them from dying out.
The barred owls have crowded the spotted owls out of prime habitat and, in some cases, attacked them.
A new recovery plan would test weeding out a number of barred owls, a program that has been tested in California.
18 study areas planned
The recovery plan envisions 18 study areas, from each of which 12 to 32 animals would be removed, lured to their deaths by recorded calls and an owl decoy, then shot at close range.
The barred owl is not native to the West Coast, scientists have said, but followed white settlers across the continent.
It would cost $198 million and take as much as 30 years to nurture the spotted owl's numbers to the point at which they could be judged as recovered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.
In response to the draft plan, interests in the Pacific Northwest took their usual stances over the resource that's been at issue since the spotted owl became a national environmental figure in 1990: large trees in uncut forests known as "oldgrowth" where spotted owls live.