Spotted Owl Habitat Protections Severely Cut Back

Jan 14, 2021

The Trump administration has slashed protections for imperiled northern spotted owls on 3.4 million acres of Northwest forests, opening up the land to additional logging.

An illustration from the 1820s shows a northern spotted owl, bottom left. Barred owls, top right, have been moving westward into the spotted owl's habitat, contributing to the spotted owl's precipitous decline.
Credit Bradley Parks / OPB

The reduction of critical habitat protected for the spotted owl is the outgoing administration’s latest jab at the reclusive bird.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said the owl deserves an upgrade to “endangered” status, given its continued decline.

But, the agency rejected uplisting the spotted owl in December. And now, it's removing habitat protections across millions of acres in Oregon, Washington and California.

Noah Greenwald is the endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

“This is perhaps the nail in the coffin for the northern spotted owl.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service says its decision satisfies a settlement agreement reached last year between the agency and the timber industry.