From: Gene Johnson, Associated Press
Published November 9, 2005 12:00 AM

Audubon Society Chapters Sue over Spotted Owl Protection

SEATTLE — The northern spotted owl was listed as an endangered species in 1990 because of logging in the Northwest, but federal officials have yet to come up with a plan to protect it, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday.


"They've been telling us for years they were going to do it," said Alex Morgan, conservation director at the Seattle Audubon Society, which joined the Kittitas Audubon Society in filing the suit. "This is 15 years late."


Joan Jewett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, acknowledged that federal officials never completed a final recovery plan for the Northern spotted owl. She said the agency recently agreed that it would complete such a plan -- hopefully within 18 months.


Morgan said the Audubon Society chapters would be satisfied if they could get that in writing.


The chapters are asking that the Interior Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service be ordered to commit within six months to a timeline for completing a recovery plan. They also seek legal fees.


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The endangered species designation led to an 80 percent cutback on logging in national forests and restrictions on private timberlands.


But the number of spotted owls -- estimated at 2,400 pairs in Washington, Oregon, Northern California and British Columbia -- continues to drop. Logging, wildfires and the barred owl, a natural enemy that has moved in from the Midwest, are all to blame, environmentalists say.


Source: Associated Press


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