The Shameful and Painful Spotted Owl Saga: Shooting Stripes To Save Spots

Published: 
Wednesday, May 8, 2013

By Teresa Platt

Spots versus stripes? Which do you prefer?

Our federal government prefers spots and is moving forward with a million-dollar-a-year plan to remove 9,000 striped owls from 2.3% of 14 million Western acres of protected spotted owl habitat. Our government is shooting wood owls with stripes to protect those with spots; to stop the stripes from breeding with the spots.

It had to come to this.

The 1990 listing of the Northern spotted owl under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) gave the bird totem status in management decisions.  

It didn’t work.  Spotted owls declined 40% over 25 years.  Timber sales on federal government-managed lands dropped too.  Oregon harvests fell from 4.9 billion board feet (1988) to less than 5%, 240 million board feet (2009).  Beyond the jobs and business profits from making lumber, the Federal and County  governments used to benefit from these harvests too.  Harvests down: tax receipts down.  Today, with cutbacks in Federal budgets and sequestration, the States are arguing about how much of your tax dollars the Federal government should give them to keep impoverished County governments afloat in timber-rich areas.

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