Bad news for the Barred owls of Oregon, Washington, and California: they’re about to be a part of the “limited experimental removal” of 3,600 birds.
Lawmakers have been watching this species like a hawk since 2005 and concluded that the “Habitat loss and competition from recently arrived barred owls (are) the most pressing threats to the northern spotted owl.” Even though the report includes non-lethal methods of removal, the initiative encountered opposition from many an animal rights group mad as a wet hen.
Now, however, the Barred owls are sitting ducks. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service published an environmental impact statement earlier today that outlines plans for the removal. Allegedly, the removal will both save the Spotted owl and the habitat, killing two birds with one stone (or, 3,600 birds with one law).
However, this 505-page report is neither fish nor fowl. It wrangles with its own mission, spending seven pages wrestling with the ethical dilemma of killing so many birds. The Wildlife Services have even spent taxpayer dollars to hire an outside “ethicist” to consult on whether to chicken out. Ultimately, the report decides that the Barred owl must be barred for the Spotted owl to be spotted once again.
In fact, the statement specifically outlines how it will go about “terminating” the birds, since, after all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush: "the general approach involves attracting territorial barred owls with recorded calls and shooting birds that respond when they approach closely." The Barred Owl’s mating calls will soon become their swan song.
With final approval from those higher up the pecking order in August, the Barred owl, once free as a bird will soon be dead as a dodo.