NewsFWS plan to kill 450,000 barred owls sparks fierce backlash

FWS plan to kill 450,000 barred owls sparks fierce backlash

450,000 Strix varia owls are to be shot in the United States
450,000 Strix varia owls are to be shot in the United States
Images source: © Wikipedia

9:12 AM EDT, July 6, 2024

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has revealed a plan to kill about 450,000 barred owls. The operation's goal is to save another species of owl, the spotted owl. Animal welfare organizations have massively opposed the idea, and the planned operation's huge cost is also controversial.

The FWS has proposed its plan to cull about 450,000 barred owls. The plan involves an annual culling of 0.5 percent of this species over the next 30 years.

The justification is the rapid reproduction of larger barred owls. They are appearing across almost the entire United States. Consequently, another species of owl—the spotted owl—is threatened.

Barred owl management is not about one owl versus another. Without actively managing barred owls, northern spotted owls will likely go extinct in all or the majority of their range, despite decades of collaborative conservation efforts - said Kessina Lee, FWS inspector of Oregon.

Plans announced by the FWS have met overwhelming criticism from animal welfare organizations in the U.S. In addition to substantial ethical doubts, the main argument against it is the cost of implementing the plan, estimated at $235 million. Organizations emphasize that this is one of history's most expensive endangered species management projects.

Every sensible person wants to save spotted owls from extinction, but strategies that kill a half-million look-alike forest owls must be taken off the table in violating our norms about proper treatment of any native owl species in North America - said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy.

If the plan is accepted, trained specialists and landowners, on whose properties barred owls and spotted owls coexist, can shoot the former freely. The FWS stipulates, however, that hunting barred owls will not be allowed.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is turning from protector to persecutor of American wildlife. Its plan is wildly expensive without protecting a single acre of forest habitat, and it is doomed to fail because there’s no way for the agency to prevent surviving owls from recolonizing nest sites - summed up Pacelle.
Related content