“To use the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own words, Trump’s rule, which slashed critical habitat for northern spotted owls, was insufficiently justified, insufficiently rational, defective, filled with short-comings, and factually inaccurate,” said Kathleen Gobush, Northwest director for Defenders of Wildlife. “We are very pleased to see President Biden and FWS taking such quick action to withdraw the rule and reinforce  the conservation needs of northern spotted owls.”

Washington, DC

In a victory for northern spotted owls, the Biden administration is proposing a massive overhaul of a Trump administration rule that eliminated 3.4 million acres of potential critical habitat for the species.

“To use the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own words, Trump’s rule, which slashed critical habitat for northern spotted owls, was insufficiently justified, insufficiently rational, defective, filled with short-comings, and factually inaccurate,” said Kathleen Gobush, Northwest director for Defenders of Wildlife. “We are very pleased to see President Biden and FWS taking such quick action to withdraw the rule and reinforce   the conservation needs of northern spotted owls.”

President Biden’s proposal‒ which would be to withdraw Trump’s rule and instead adopt a rule previously pitched scientists under the Trump administration which was ultimately ignored until now‒ would revert 3.2 million of the 3.4 million acres back to critical habitat designation. The new rule would still exclude 200,000 acres of important forest land within 15 counties in Oregon. In contrast, the Trump rule that was enacted excluded lands within 45 counties of Oregon, Washington and California. 

As a species, the northern spotted owl has already lost 77% of its old-forest habitat in Washington, 68% in Oregon and roughly half in California, primarily as a result of logging. The species is also facing increasing competition from invasive barred owls, an east coast species that adapts better to damaged habitat. Northern spotted owls are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, endangered at the state level in Washington and Oregon and threatened at the state level in California.  

“The Fish and Wildlife Service also noted in their findings the northern spotted owl needs increased protections and a federal listing of ‘endangered’ under the Endangered Species Act,” said Gobush. “It can be a slow process, but this is an outstanding catalyst for us to continue our efforts and get the species the strongest federal protections. There’s more to be done, but this is without a doubt, a win for wildlife.”
 

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

Media Contact

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Hawk Hammer headshot
Hawk Hammer
Communications Specialist
hhammer@defenders.org
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Kathleen Gobush
Kathleen Gobush
Northwest Program Director

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