Northern Spotted Owl
There is probably no species more closely associated with our majestic ancient forests than the Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). However, unsustainable logging practices used throughout the last century have left only remnants of our old growth ecosystems, and the Northern Spotted Owl now perches on the edge of extinction.
Portland Audubon 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, and others that led to the listing of the Northern Spotted Owl as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990 and to the first significant protections of old growth ecosystems under the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994.
Threats to the Northern Spotted Owl
Despite more than two decades of listing under the Endangered Species Act, Northern Spotted Owl populations remain deeply imperiled. Spotted owls have been completely pushed out of 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 Northern Spotted Owl 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 Northern 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 Northern Spotted Owl for habitat, putting even more pressure on this imperiled species.
Portland Audubon’s Work to Protect the Northern Spotted Owl
Portland Audubon continues to actively work to protect Northern Spotted Owls and the old growth ecosystems on which they depend by:
- Advocating for strong old growth protection plans at on federal, state and private forest lands
- Tracking Northwest Forest Plan Revisions
- Managing our own 218 acre sanctuary at 10-Mile Creek near Yachats to provide habitat for Spotted Owls and other old growth dependant species.
- Tracking upcoming decisions regarding lethal control of Barred Owls to benefit Spotted Owls.