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In a great example of choosing winners and losers in the competition of species the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has decided to start shooting the barred owl to protect the spotted one. A classic example of bias of spots over stripes.

The spotted owl is the poster boy on how to use the Endangered Species Act to accomplish a goal beyond the species itself and how things can get messed up.

Because the spotted owl lives in old growth forest and because populations were low eco advocates used the spotted owl to stop all cutting of old growth forests in the western US. It was exactly this issue that birthed the Center for Biological Diversity, (and it was while working hooting up owls that it's founder got busted for shop lifting a pair of boots at Walmart)

Personally, you know, in my own opinion, based on nothing scientific at all, I like old growth forests. Now I've heard forest management types say that our suspension of scientific management (cutting and planting) has caused the intense fires due to fuel build up. Who knows, I sure don't. I do know that ending the logging industry put a lot of middle class families onto the welfare rolls and caused the decline of many towns that have never recovered. Similar to autos, steel, and coal, we are great at getting rid of working class jobs, less good about keeping lives and families from being destroyed because of it.

But back to the owl.

What first caught my attention was a posting on one of the greenie type blogs I read. "Hunters to start killing owls". I of course knew this to be a misrepresentation. Hunters don't cook up roasted owl breast or stuff owl trophies. They aren't culling the owl population using what's called "sport hunting" there are no licenses, no open season, no public hunting. What they mean is contract employees of probably Wildlife Services or bounty hunters.

The AP in their long article calls them "armed bird specialists". Now that's as convoluted a description of a bird hunter for hire as I've ever read.

I do know that barred owls have been slowly moving westward for decades. They are more aggressive and outcompete their poor spotted cousins. I'm not at all sure it's worth trying to save the spots. Unless there is a place where they are more suited to live than barred owls I see it as a futile endeavor, only delaying the inevitable.



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