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Feds seek public input for Barred owl management plan

A Barred owl chick

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing a plan to manage the invasive Barred owl population on the West Coast. The plan would help with recovery of spotted owl species.

The Barred owl, native to the Eastern United States, has slowly made its way to the Pacific over the last 100 years.

These invasive owls are encroaching on vulnerable northern and California spotted owl territory. Robin Bown with the Fish and Wildlife Service says the Barred owl is more aggressive and can eat a wider variety of animals.

"So as they move into an area they can eject the spotted owls from that area through competition," says Bown. "And because they can use a smaller area, it can be up to four pairs of Barred owls in a single spotted owl territory.”

Bown is helping to develop a management plan for the Barred owl. A past study showed that northern spotted owl populations improved when Barred owls were removed.

“So our intent in the California spotted owl range, however, because there are so few Barred owls, is to limit the extent of invasion into that area," Bown says.

Bown says the plan will have to be extensive, to cover the entire range of both spotted owl species.

The agency is seeking input from the public as they develop the plan, including areas they might include or exclude, and alternative population control methods that could be effective.

A virtual public meeting will be held July 28th to answer questions. Bown expects the plan to be completed by the end of next year.

Members of the public can submit comments to help guide the plan through August 22nd.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.