The federal government says the California spotted owl does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act at this time. The owl has become a symbol in the battle over old-growth forests and environmental groups say they will sue to overturn the ruling.
The decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service relies in part on owl protection plans the U.S. Forest Service says will likely be substantially altered. The Fish and Wildlife Service says the medium-size brown mottled owl still exists in all or most of its historic range from the Sierra Nevada and the central coastal range to the mountain ranges of Southern California.