U.S. suggests saving imperiled owls by shooting other owls

Despite 17 years of conservation measures, the northern spotted owl is still in trouble. So the Bush administration has issued a cease-and-desist order on logging in the owl’s Pacific Northwest habitat. Ha ha ha! No, the feds’ recent draft spotted-owl protection plan instead vilifies the barred owl, a nonnative competitor and sometime predator to its spotted cousin. A central part of the proposal is that federal wildlife agents be allowed to “suppress” barred owls — that is, take out hundreds of ’em with shotguns. The plan is “a deception to deflect the blame away from habitat destruction,” says owl advocate Dominick DellaSala. Some greens concede that the spotted owl is in such bad shape that it could do with federal bodyguards — but they say barring barred owls won’t work unless the government also gives a hoot about protecting the spotted owls’ habitat. Says Bob Sallinger of the Audubon Society, “We have an ethical imperative not to allow species to expire because of activity we initiated.”