Chain Saws in the Owl Habitat

Spotted owl numbers are dropping by 4% annually.

The Bush administration last week announced that it would cut the amount of land designated as critical habitat for the endangered Northern Spotted Owl by some 23%. The administration claims other threats besides logging are responsible for the bird’s falling population numbers. Spotted owl numbers are dropping by 4% annually as a result of wildfires and invasion of habitat by the more aggressive barred owl, as well as by continued logging.

Environmentalists are protesting the decision, as they say critical habitat is key to maintaining the bird’s population. They say the decision will allow for a marked increase in logging in old growth forests throughout Northern California, Oregon and Washington, and they intend to fight the decision in courts at both the federal and state level.

"This is a parting gift from the Bush administration to its timber friends," said Kristen Boyles of the nonprofit Earthjustice, a public interest environmental law firm that has been fighting for the owl since the 1980s. "It flies in the face of the science that says we need to protect more habitat, not less."

Source: MSNBC; Earth Justice