cso.jpg (10785 bytes)California spotted owl at risk of extinction; conservation groups petition for federal Endangered Species protection

Contact Jeff Howitt (916) 442-3155 x216

April, 2000

Conservation groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, filed a petition today in Sacramento seeking federal protection for the California spotted owl. The groups want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the owl as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

"The owl population is falling precipitously," said Noah Greenwald, of the Center for Biological Diversity. He cited studies showing recent declines in owl populations of 7-10% a year in the Lassen, Eldorado and Sierra National Forests. "The case for listing under the Endangered Species Act is incredibly strong," said Greenwald. "Stronger than it was for the Northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest." Northern and Mexican spotted owls are already listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

calcut.jpg (19157 bytes)More than a century of logging in the Sierra Nevada has destroyed much of the spotted owl's habitat - mature and old-growth forests. Recent studies show that old-growth forests have declined by 70-80% on national forest lands and have been nearly eliminated from private lands.

The conservation groups point to studies showing that owls in Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park, where logging is prohibited, are faring considerably better than owls in Sierra National Forest, where there has been a significant amount of logging. Other factors affecting owl habitat include urban development, livestock grazing, mining, recreation and road construction.

"The Forest Service has tried for years to put together a plan to effectively protect the owl, yet it remains in deep trouble," said Scott Black, director of the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign. "It is time for the Fish and Wildlife Service to take the necessary steps to protect this magnificent animal." Fish and Wildlife has ninety days to respond to the petition.

More Information

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