CORVALLIS, Ore. — Scientists are hoping they can save the spotted owl by killing off one of its competitors.
The controversial plan involves killing off the barred owl, starting with four test areas, two in Oregon. A biologist for the U.S. Forest Service has been studying the spotted owls since 1960, and says they population is dwindling.
Biologists say the spotted owl only lives in old-growth forests, but the barred owl can live anywhere. They say the barred owl also raids the spotted owl’s food supply, and at times attacks them directly.
“So, you’re going to see spotted owls blink out, almost undoubtedly, if barred owls are not managed in some way,” explained Paul Henson, the state supervisor of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The spotted owl recovery plan is a 10 year experiment to see what would happen in 3,000 barred owl were removed from areas of the west coast. Opponents of the plan are asking what happens after the experiment, and whether barred owls will have to be continually killed for thousands of years.