Kill The Owls…To Save the Owls?

by Matt Patterson on February 29, 2012

in Blog, Features

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Conservatives often complain that government shouldn’t be “picking winners and losers” in the market, by for instance, lavishing some politically favored and connected constituencies (solar companies, unions, et al) with subsidies that give them an advantage over competing interests.

True enough.  Government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers.  But that never stops the Feds from trying…and now, they have gotten into the business of pickling the winners and losers in the game of life itself.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed new measures to save the endangered Northern Spotted Owl, that bane of loggers and rodents from the Pacific Northwest.  Science Insider fills us in on the FWS’s new pro-owl/anti-owl campaign:

The proposals include designating more critical habitat, encouraging logging to prevent forest fires, and an experiment to shoot a competing owl species.

Wait, come again? What was that last part?  “An experiment to shoot competing owls.”  OK, I did read that right.

Wow.  Science Insider gives the gory details:

The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) ran into trouble in the 1980s as its old-growth forest was severely logged in Oregon and Washington. Even though destruction of its habitat slowed dramatically after the owl was placed on the endangered species list in 1990, its numbers have continued to decrease by an average of 3% a year. A major problem is competition from barred owls, which have invaded its territories.

How dare those Barred Owls out-compete rival species by being more productive and intrepid!  That’s the kind of success Obama loves to punish.  (The Administration’s attitude toward the Second Amendment appears to go something like this:  Guns are bad, unless you are 1) a Mexican drug lord or 2) an Elmer Fudd wannabe out for Barred Owl blood.  In either case, you have the Feds’ full support.)

And it’s not the first time the Feds have played High Evolutionary. The Washington Post reports:

The plan to kill barred owls would not be the first time the federal government has authorized killing of one species to help another. California sea lions that feast on threatened salmon in the Columbia River have been killed in recent years after efforts to chase them away or scare them failed.

I feel sorry for the Barred Owl (and other targeted species), but all is not lost.  Maybe the government’s efforts to thin their numbers will be so successful that they will become endangered, in which case they may qualify for a government-backed effort to kill a rival.

We are through the looking glass here, people.

CanadaWild February 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm

…”the service would kill or transfer 257 to nearly 8,960 barred owls, according to the service’s environmental impact statement on the plan.” Wow!! Killing one owl for another doesn’t seem right. I understand spotted owls need a solution, but killing up to 9000 barred owls in one study area is down right evil! Long live the barred owl!!

Brian March 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

What are we teaching our children in science classes when it comes to evolution? I thought Obama believed in evolution, but it sounds like he believes in creationism. He just has a different idea of who the “Creator” is.

mrartday March 2, 2012 at 6:35 pm

It’s a complicated business. The Barred Owl kills and eats Spotted Owls. But the Barred Owl is not here in the PNW naturally. The Barred Owl prefers hunting in cut over land for ground squirrels etc. It got here from it’s ancestral home in the NE by following the loggers as they moved from the NE to the Great lakes to the PNW over the last 150 or so years. The Spotted Owl prefers to hunt Golden Voles which live up in old growth conifers and seldom reach the ground. I doubt that anything will save the Spotted Owl now that most of the old growth and the Golden Voles are gone. Whether the Spotted Owl of the PNW is a different species from the Spotted Owl that is wide spread in Mexico is a question the environmental control freaks would rather we not go into.

Sorinn March 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

This is a great website for a college student like me.

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