|Barred owls killed|
In Shooting Owls, Zach St. George writes:
Spotted owls, Strix occidentalis, and barred owls, Strix varia, are each other’s closest relatives — so closely related that they can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. They look similar, with dark eyes, rounded features and brown plumage, and as nocturnal rodent-hunters in big, dense forests, they both fill the same niche. Both birds must have a territory to defend to attract a mate and reproduce. They’re natural competitors, but it’s not quite an even fight. The barred owls are just a little bigger and heavier — and more aggressive.
Nobody can say for sure how barred owls got to the Pacific Northwest. For hundreds of thousands of years spotted owls and barred owls stayed on separate sides of the continent, but sometime in recent history — scientists believe around 100 years ago — the barred owl began its push westward. There’s no question that the Great Plains were once the barrier that kept barred owls confined to the east, but there are multiple theories on what helped the owls bridge the gap, said Fish and Wildlife biologist Kent Livezey.
You just had to know what was coming:
One idea is that climate change allowed the owls to venture farther north into existing forests.
However, it looks like they won't be shooting owls to protect owls in the near future:
Fish and Wildlife biologist Robin Bown, who is leading the work on the environmental impact statement for barred owl removal experiment, said that the agency is at least a year-and-a-half out from any experiment that would remove barred owls. First it has to complete the environmental impact statement, estimate costs, and settle on a method of removal. Removing the owls alive is an option. Capturing barred owls with nets, however, is difficult, time intensive, and costly. Bown said capturing the owls alive only to release them later in unfamiliar territory is morally questionable. “Realistically, it’s shoving it under the carpet so you don’t have to watch the birds die,” said Bown. Shooting the birds, on the other hand, is relatively simple and cost effective. The process begins the same way as banding: Use territorial calls to draw the barred owls out, wait until they land on a branch and are easy to hit, and shoot them with a shotgun.