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Report Says Spotted Owl Still Declining

A new study shows that 14 years after coming under federal protection, northern spotted owl numbers continue to decline, particularly in Washington state.

The owl – an icon of the Northwest timber wars – no longer faces the severe threat from logging it once did, but it faces new threats. These include wildfires and the barred owl, a relative that is rapidly taking over spotted owl habitat in the West.

The study, conducted by a Portland firm on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, appears to be a blow to timber industry efforts to loosen restrictions on federal forest logging in Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

The report suggests that overall, northern spotted owls declined by about 3.7 percent per year from 1985 to 2003, about double that in Washington.