undated article -from last Freshwater Socy e-newsletter
Spotted owls continue to decline
Twenty years after northern spotted owls were protected under the Endangered
Species Act, their numbers continue to decline, and scientists
aren't certain whether the birds will survive even though logging was banned
on much of the old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest
where they live in order to save them.
The owl remains an iconic symbol in a region where once loggers in
steel-spiked, high-topped caulk boots felled 200-year-old or even older
trees and loaded them on trucks that compression-braked down twisty mountain
roads to mills redolent with the smell of fresh sawdust and
smoke from burning timber scraps.
Regionwide, the owl populations are dropping 2.9 percent a year. In
Washington State, they're declining at 6 percent to 7 percent a year.
While that may seem like a small number, it adds up, said Eric Forsman, a
research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific
Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, Ore., who's studied the owl since
The fight over the owl, however, perhaps the fiercest in the history of the
Endangered Species Act, was always about more than just
protecting a surprisingly friendly, football-sized bird with dark feathers,
dark eyes and white spots.
-McLatchy News Service
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