News Release

April 19, 2012

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Host Public Meetings On Proposed Barred Owl Removal Experiment

Media Contacts:
Taylor Goforth, (360) 753-4375

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host two open meetings in Seattle to seek public input on a draft Environmental Impact Statement on experimental removal of encroaching barred owls from northern spotted owl habitat. The proposed barred owl removal experiment is a major part of a recovery strategy for the spotted owl, a threatened species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Public meeting Thursday, May 3, 2012: two sessions 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Seattle Pacific University; Otto Miller Hall, 3307 3rd Avenue West, Seattle, Washington.

Persons with disabilities needing reasonable accommodations to participate in the public meeting are invited to contact Andrea Butsch at (503) 736-4785 (voice) or (503) 231-6263 (TTY), or andrea_butsch@fws.gov. Reasonable accommodation requests should be received at least 3 business days prior to the meeting to help ensure availability; 2 weeks' notice is requested for ASL/ESL interpreter needs.

The 90-day public comment period on the draft EIS extends through June 6, 2012. Comments on the barred owl draft EIS can be provided any one of the following ways:

* Email: barredowlEIS@fws.gov
* U.S. mail: Paul Henson, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE 98th Ave., Suite 100, Portland, OR 97266.
* In-Person drop-off, viewing, or pickup: Call (503) 231-6179 to make an appointment during regular business hours to drop off comments or view received comments at the above address. * Fax: Paul Henson, (503) 231-6195, Attn.: Barred Owl Draft EIS.

The Service is concerned that spotted owls are likely to become extinct in parts of their range without barred owl population management. Managing competition from barred owls is one of the main recommendations in the spotted owl recovery plan. The proposed experimental removal of barred owls from certain areas of the spotted owl's range would help inform the Service about whether or not barred owl removal is an effective and feasible way of managing competition between the species. Courses of action under consideration include non-lethal and lethal methods of removal. The draft EIS also includes a "no action" option.

The Service currently has another major spotted owl recovery-related proposal available for public comment - a proposed revised critical habitat designation. The agency will soon be announcing a schedule for public meetings on that proposal as well. More information on the critical habitat proposal is also available at the above-listed website.

America's fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Services Endangered Species program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.