Spotted Owl Recovery Plan to be Revised

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Invites Public Review Of Draft Revision to the Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan

(Sept 14, 2010) - A draft revision to the 2008 Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan is available for a 60-day public review period, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. The proposed refinements will help the agency better address the Pacific Northwest forest dweller’s current threats and recovery needs. The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990 and continues to decline.


The draft revision is not an overhaul of the existing recovery plan but includes significant refinements based on scientific and technological advancements, especially related to evaluating suitable habitat.

“In the early years after the spotted owl was protected under the Endangered Species Act, we anticipated that it would take decades to make up for the habitat that has been lost over the last 100 or more years,” said Robyn Thorson, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Regional Director. “The progress federal partners have made in establishing more ecological and diversified forest management practices since the spotted owl was listed has helped to reduce its decline, but we’re certainly not out of the woods yet.”

The 2008 recovery plan identified past and current habitat loss as well as competition from barred owls as the most significant threats to the owl’s continued survival. The barred owl, a larger, more aggressive and adaptable relative from eastern North America, has progressively moved into the same range, disrupting and displacing spotted owls.

The most recent analysis of data on demographics such as occupancy, survival, reproduction, and movement indicates that the spotted owl continues to decline in seven of 11 study areas throughout its range in Washington, Oregon, and California (populations are considered stationary in the other four). The overall rangewide population is declining at an average rate of nearly 3 percent per year.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ultimate goal in this revision is to produce a recovery plan that is scientifically sound and durable, has widespread support among varied stakeholders, and will promote spotted owl recovery in a timely and cost-effective manner,” said Paul Henson, State Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office and the agency’s lead for spotted owl recovery. “The proposed revision is a solid step in this direction, and we invite public comments to help us improve the plan even further.”

For more information, visit to view the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Notice of Availability” for the draft revision, which provides a summary of the agency’s proposed changes; the full recovery plan document including the proposed changes, and additional background information on spotted owl recovery.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit



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