How will we remember the Obama administration? What single act encapsulates the entire experience?
If you ask me, it’s this one:
Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing barred owls will allow northern spotted owls to reclaim territory they’ve been driven out of over the past half-century.
The two other non-owl players in this scenario are not at all pleased:
“Shooting a few isolated areas of barred owl isn’t going to help us as forest managers, nor is it going to help the forest be protected from wildfires, and catastrophic wildfire is one of the big impediments to spotted owl recovery,” said Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group.
Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, said saving the spotted owl is of paramount importance, but the focus must remain on protecting habitat. “To move forward with killing barred owls without addressing the fundamental cause of spotted owl declines, from our perspective, is not acceptable,” he said.
This is not the first time the Feds have come up with a plan like this:
Between 2000 and 2006, wildlife officials captured and removed more than 40 golden eagles from the Channel Islands off Southern California to protect the island fox. They also hired a company to kill 5,000 feral pigs on Santa Cruz in a controversial program to restore the island’s ecosystem.
For some reason, they couldn’t persuade the eagles to dine on the pigs rather than on the foxes; large signs containing mandatory nutritional information, I suspect, might not have worked.
Still, they’re overlooking the most obvious solution: relocate the spotted owls to Detroit. One more predator there will scarcely be noticed.