Barred owls are bullying the smaller northern spotted owl, and biologists are trying to put a stop to it.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has signed off on a program that would involve killing barred owls, are bully smaller northern spotted owls, an endangered species.
The barred owl has become a problem ever since moving from the eastern United States into California en masse. The big owls have been running roughshod over the northern spotted owls, increasing their numbers and crowding out the endangered species, according to an Associated Press report.
Northern spotted owl populations have been plummeting by 12 percent every year despite efforts to protect them. Now, biologists are going on the offensive after a 2009 experiment that showed that by removing barred owls from patches of timberland caused northern spotted owl populations to stop declining.
Scientists say it’s not the barred owl’s fault that the two species are in competition, but rather the destruction of old-growth habitat that forces the two species to be at each other’s throats.
The barred owl removal program is seen as a short-term solution to conservation, and efforts should continue in earnest to restore habitat so that such a program of killing owls doesn’t have to continue.
The barred owl is one of the most common owls in North America. It is quite large, witha dults growing to have a wingspan of up to 49 inches, or more than 4 feet. The birds weigh up to 2.31 lbs. It is called the barred owl because of its chest, which is barred horizontally with the belly streaked vertically.
It is actually closely related to the spotted owl, which looks similar to the barred owl but is a bit smaller.