U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Sacramento Fish & Wildlife OfficeServing the people, conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of California

A Unit Of The Pacific Southwest Region

News Release

Federal Scientists Determine ESA Protection Not Required for California Spotted Owl

November 7, 2019

Media Contact:
Meghan Snow, Phone: (916) 414-6671, Email: meghan_snow@fws.gov

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced it has thoroughly reviewed the status of the California spotted owl and concluded it does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Through consultation with experts, reviewing site surveys and examining scientific literature, the Service determined that California spotted owls continue to inhabit their historic range, and the species is not in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, nor is it likely to become so in the foreseeable future.

The California spotted owl is found throughout the Sierra Nevada, in some areas of coastal and Southern California, and Baja California, Mexico. The owl lives in older forests, nesting in tree cavities and hunting for flying squirrels and other rodents that live in the forest understory. Most of the land inhabited by California spotted owls is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Sierra Pacific Industries.

Although listing is not necessary, the Service is actively working with its partners to conserve California spotted owl habitat. Catastrophic wildfire is one of the biggest risks to California spotted owl. To reduce this risk, the Service worked with Sierra Pacific Industries and the U.S. Forest Service to develop coordinated, multi-party fire risk reduction efforts that include the removal of brush and select trees that fuel fires in owl habitat. Implementation of these plans could help improve California spotted owl habitat in the coming years.

A copy of the finding will publish in the Federal Register on November 8, 2019. Supporting information and a list of references cited can be found at: www.regulations.gov (Docket #FWS–R8–ES–2015–0139).

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/Sacramento. Connect with us via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

Last updated: November 7, 2019