From: Jeff Barnard, Associated Press
Published November 19, 2004 12:00 AM

Northern Spotted Owl to Stay on Threatened Species List, but Isn't Endangered, Government Says

GRANTS PASS, Ore. − The northern spotted owl, the bird at the center of the Pacific Northwest logging wars, will stay on the threatened species list, the government said Thursday.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service review said the spotted owl is still declining in numbers because of wildfires, logging on private land, the West Nile virus and the loss of territory to a more aggressive species, the barred owl.

The spotted owl has been listed as threatened since 1990. To help save it, the government in 1994 cut logging by more than 80 percent in the Northwest's national forests.

The wildlife service arranged for an outside review of the owl's status in response to a forest industry lawsuit in 2003.

The review said previous research found that the spotted owl population declined by about 3.7 percent per year from 1985 to 2003, most dramatically in Washington state. The overall population has not been estimated.

The review concluded the owl is not endangered, a more dire condition requiring greater effort to keep a species from becoming extinct.

The Audubon Society of Portland said further reductions in logging and elevating the owl to endangered on Washington's Olympic peninsula, where declines have been sharpest, may be needed.

Source: Associated Press

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