Logging, not wildfire, is most likely driving northern spotted owl decline

By Monica Bond, Wild Nature Institute
October 25, 2022
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) is the “canary in the coal-mine” for the health of old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A. This owl indicates the status of old-growth forest, which has dwindled to only 15% of its former extent because of logging. The spotted owl is adapted to hunt and nest in the complex mixture of severely burned forest and unburned old-growth forest patches found within the large wildfires that are a natural part of the owls’ dry forest habitat. Unfortunately, federal forest management agencies have recently started to blame wildfires for spotted owl population declines. However, a new study published in the journal Forests documents the massive extent of logging in northern spotted owl territories that have burned, indicating that logging rather than wildfire is likely driving owl declines.

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