Northern Spotted Owl
Strix occidentalis caurina
There is probably no species more closely associated with our majestic ancient forests than the northern spotted owl. However, unsustainable logging practices used throughout the last century have left only remnants of our old growth ecosystems, and the spotted owl now perches on the edge of extinction.
Audubon Society of Portland has worked for decades to protect northern spotted owls and the old growth forests on which they depend. In fact, it was a result of a petition filed by Seattle Audubon Society, Portland Audubon Society, and others that led to the listing of the NSO as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1990 and to the first significant protections of old growth ecosystems under the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994.
Despite more than two decades of listing under the Endangered Species Act, spotted owl populations remain deeply imperiled. Spotted owls have been completely extirpated in British Columbia and continue to decline at a rate of 7 percent annually in Washington and at 4 percent across their entire range.
It will take decades to restore the old growth ecosystems on which spotted owls and myriad other species depend. Recovery efforts face challenges from continued attempts to roll back the habitat protections established in 1994 even as the best available science tells us that even stronger protections are needed. In some areas of Oregon, protections for spotted owls are very weak – especially on private lands and in state forests. In addition, a new threat has emerged. Barred owls, a species native to the eastern United States, have expanded their range into the Pacific Northwest, and are competing directly with spotted owls for habitat, putting even more pressure on spotted owls.
Audubon continues to actively work to protect spotted owls and the old growth ecosystems on which they depend.
Audubon Society of Portland Comments on the Barred Owl Draft Environmental Impact Statement (June 2012)
Audubon Society of Portland Comments on the Barred Owl Environmental Impact Statement (January 2010)
Audubon Society et al Comments on Spotted Owl Safe Harbor Agreements (November 2009)
Audubon Society of Portland Position Statement on Barred Owls (June 2008)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Spotted Owl Webpage