By Jake Lee Green
Kern Valley Sun
On November 7, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced it will not consider the protection of the California Spotted Owl for the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after a thorough review of its current status in the wild. Consultation amongst experts on the status of the species was done so through site surveys and scientific literature compiled by the service. The USFWS determined the species is not currently at risk of being endangered in their historic natural habitats, nor do they believe they shall be in the foreseeable future.
The natural habitats for the California spotted owl are found throughout the greater Sierra Nevada, coastal and Southern California, and Baja California, Mexico. The owl typically tends to nest itself in older growth forests at the tops of the canopies where it hunts for various species of squirrel including flying squirrels and various other rodents that live on the understory of forests. Most of these lands are maintained under the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Sierra Pacific Industries.
Conservation efforts to protect territories inhabited by the spotted owl are currently being pursued by the USFWS and its partners. Assessing the risks to the spotted owl has been underway and it has been determined that catastrophic wildfire is the primary threat to spotted owl habitats. That assessment led the USFWS to partner with the USFS and Sierra Pacific Industries to strategize fuel reduction techniques that include brush removal and tree clearing. The implementation of such a plan may very well limit the threat to the spotted owl’s natural habitats.
For more information please refer to the Federal Register at www.regulations.gov (Docket: #FWS-R8-ES-2015-0139)