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AOU and other scientific societies call for science-based decisions for Spotted Owl management

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The American Ornithologists’ Union, aided by the Ornithological Council, was among three scientific societies that called upon the Secretary of the Interior to reconsider a plan for commercial timber harvesting in the Pacific Northwest. The Society for Conservation Biology, The Wildlife Society, and the AOU called for a full environmental impact statement on the potential impacts of a DOI proposal that would allow substantial commercial timber harvesting in the critical habitat of threatened northern spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest. The primary cause for their decline and subsequent protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was due to unsustainable timber harvesting in the Pacific Northwest. The DOI has asserted that these new active management activities will benefit the Spotted Owl over the long-term, scientists counter that this appears to be an untested and unverified management theory. The societies recommended that the EIS identify a range of experimental forestry techniques, appropriate scientific methodologies to assess those techniques, and a scientific process for evaluating impacts on spotted owls. According to John R. Faaborg, President of the American Ornithologists’ Union, “The USFWS has proved thoughtful in its approach to the barred owl question by planning carefully designed experiments to determine if the reduction of competition by this encroaching species will benefit the spotted owl. The AOU encourages the Service to take the same thoughtful approach to the issue of forest management and timber removal by approaching it first on an experimental basis.” Read the full text of the letter: www.conbio.org/Activities/Policy/docs/Letter_to_DOI_FINAL.pdf

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