Feds give barred owls on Olympic Peninsula reprieve — but not those near Cle Elum

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owlSEATTLE — It’s a case of killing one forest creature to save another.

Federal agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they’ll kill and capture barred owls in the forests around Cle Elum so they can study how that will affect the spotted owl population.  According to Robin Bown, lead biologist for the project, Cle Elum was chosen over the Olympic Mountains, due to the lack of forest roads on the Olympic Peninsula.

“Any removal on the Cle Elum study area would not occur until fall of 2014,” Bown says.  “All removal will be done by highly trained biologists hired for the study.”

In northern California, the removal of barred owls could start as early as this fall, about 55 miles northeast of Eureka.  Killing a barred owl is illegal outside of the study, since they are federally-protected birds.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says people building homes deeper and deeper into the wilderness has pushed barred owls into spotted owl territory, making them the biggest threat to the federally endangered species.  Researchers hope their work will help them know if reducing barred owl populations will help spotted owl numbers recover.

More details about the study will likely be released sometime next summer.

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