The northern spotted owl has been under attack for decades, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service. At the end of their time in office, the Trump administration rolled back habitat protections in 45 counties across California, Washington and Oregon, however it had not been implemented due to time constraints.
The proposal to bring back the protections has been deemed as insufficient by some environmental groups. More needs to be done to really get to the heart of the issue, for both northern spotted owls and for other species currently threatened or endangered, according to experts.
Steve Pedery, a representative from Oregon Wild, an environmental protection organisation, told The Washington Post: “We’re not going to get any new critical habitat out of this. This is great, it absolutely needs to happen, but it’s not, in and of itself, going to recover spotted owls or protect salmon.”
At the time of the Trump administration’s rollback, animal conversationists condemned the move, calling it a “parting gift” to those who make money over the habitat’s destruction.
“This revision guts protected habitat for the northern spotted owl by more than a third. It’s Trump’s latest parting gift to the timber industry and another blow to a species that needs all the protections it can get to fully recover,” said endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity Noah Greenwald, according to the AP.
The timber industry voiced their own concerns about the the federal government’s potential reintroduction of the protections.
Lawson Fite, a legal representative for the American Forest Resource Council, the body representing the lumber industry, said that the proposal was “politics over science”.
“Reversing this rule prioritizes politics over science and will provide no conservation benefit to the species, which is being pushed towards extinction by catastrophic wildfires,” he said in a statement.
Attempts to save the northern spotted owl are not new – it has been marked as a “threatened” species since 1990. The Clinton administration made effort to create a critical habitat for them and other animals.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 70 per cent of its habitat has vanished and it it is believed it could go extinct. Officially updating its status to “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act is believed to not have happened in December due to limited resources in the department.
The Biden administration’s proposal will be able to be publicly commented on for two months.
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