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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The federal government’s laid out a plan to prevent the extinction of northern spotted owls. Those owls have been on the protected list for decades. And the way the Fed’s protecting the owls will have an effect on a big industry in the Pacific Northwest.
Bellamy Pailthorpe of station KPLU is with us from Seattle this morning with the latest. Good morning, Bellamy.
BELLAMY PAILTHORPE: Good morning.
CHIOTAKIS: Talk about these new rules. What are they all about?
PAILTHORPE: It’s not just about habitat protection but it’s also about a competition from the barred owl. He’s an East Coast bird that is bigger and more aggressive, more adapted to all kinds of habitat. And it has invaded some of those forests. And now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking at the possibility of killing off some of those barred owls in order to get more territory back for the northern spotted owl.
CHIOTAKIS: The spotted owl has come up against some other foes in the past right?
PAILTHORPE: Loggers have traditionally been the foe of the northern spotted owl. Back in the 1990s, the Timber Wars erupted over this issue. The northern spotted owl really represents the old growth forest. It’s an indicator species for that entire ecosystem and as such, saving it means setting aside the traditional harvesting ground for the logging industry in the Northwest. Back in the 90s, you had diners provocatively offering up owl soup in this really tenacious debate about what was appropriate in terms of protecting that iconic Northwest bird.
CHIOTAKIS: And yeah, we still have friction right? With the timber industry and these new rules.
PAILTHORPE: Potentially yes. The territory where the norther spotted owl resides is large about 20 million acres of U.S. Forest Service lands. Also 2 million acres of other managed lands are potentially affected and there could even be private lands where owners are offered incentives and ways of setting aside more habitat.
CHIOTAKIS: Bellamy Pailthorpe from station KPLU. Bellamy thanks.
PAILTHORPE: Thank you.