Spotted Owl Screw Job Redux

The 2010 Draft Revised Revised Revised Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl is now out for your inspection and comments [here].

From: US Fish and Wildlife Disservice

Date: Wednesday, September 08, 2023

Title: Draft Revised Recovery Plan available for Review

Description: The Draft Revised Recovery Plan for the Northern Spotted Owl is available for public review and comment and can be downloaded by clicking the link below. This file is large (6.24 MBs) so it may be slow to open. Emailed comments can be sent to: Written comments should be submitted to: Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, 2600 SE 98th Avenue, Ste. 100, Portland, OR 97266. For additional information go to

The newest edition of this endless bucket of crap, confusion, and destruction is 181 pages long. That’s not much, considering the USFWD has had 20 years to write it. Here’s a partial timeline:

1990 - the spotted owl was listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as threatened.

1994 - The catastrophic failure known as the Northwest Forest Plan is signed by you guessed it, Al Gore. It is to be a substitute for the statutorily mandated recovery plan.

1994 through 2006 - Spotted owl populations crash, old-growth forests are incinerated, rural economies crash, Congress and USFWD sits on their fat asses doing nothing.

2006 - Formation of 12-member multi-agency, multidisciplinary Recovery Team made up of non-experts with extreme political leanings.

2007 - Draft Recovery Plan #1 published. It flops like a fish on the deck.

2008 - Yet another “expert” panel work revises #1, comes up with Draft Recovery Plan #2.

2009 - Obama Admin in the person of Ken “Mr. Tamper” Salazar flushes #2 down the toilet, claiming the Bush Admin “tampered” with it.

Feb 2010 - USFWD begins a new process by gathering more political extremist wackos together. Public shut out, as usual. Climate change is their new mantra.

Sept 1, 2023 - A district court judge orders Salazar to complete a revised recovery plan within nine months or else. The “or else” part is a joke. Everybody has a good laugh.

Sept 8, 2023 - Draft Revised Recovery Plan #3 released for public comment and peer review.

What do you know? They had something or other in the files, waiting for the judge to order them to release it.

The gist of #3 is that after 20 years, the “experts” don’t know how many owls there are, where they live, what they eat, or anything else. Another 30 years of study is required and, oh yes, another $175 million in funding for the USFWD.

Part of that is to pay “bird biologists” to ride around in pickup trucks blasting barred owls with shotguns “like a redneck sport”. Which is already underway. Duck and cover, here comes a “bird biologist” with a loaded shotgun.

Meanwhile 25% of rural Oregon is on food stamps, all the mills are shuttered and most dismantled, the schools and roads are crumbling, the counties are bankrupt, and the people are angry as bees at the gross pusillanimity of the rapacious functionaries working for the USFWD and their radical Marxist buddies.

But what the hey. Here’s another Hoax Plan. They yearn for your comments. Please study it up and send them some. Any comments sent to SOSF will be posted. Thank you for your patience. Have a food stamp while you’re waiting.

9 Sep 2010, 4:14pm
by Tim B.

I’ve always found it curious that the barred owl is seen as such a problem; here is an owl so close to the northern spotted owl that they can interbreed, and as best I have heard can, at least occasionally, bear fertile young. So are they really a separate species? What kind of unique genetic legacy does the NSO have over and above its eastern cousin? Many specific have sub-races that are of slightly different coloration or pattern…uh, like us! Then there’s the fact that they are a similarly sized owl utilizing the same habitat and prey, taking care of the same ecosystem functions as does the NSO. Why not put the shotgun down and let ‘em come? They seem to be a bit more robust and versatile anyway.

9 Sep 2010, 4:39pm
by Mike


You touch on a key issue. The wildlife biology applied to the spotted owl is and always has been third rate.

My cursory and dismissive post above is only preliminary. I have skimmed Recovery Plan #3 and I intend to study it more carefully. Then I will have more substantive comments.

But the entire gestalt of the spotted owl machinations has been a fraud from the get go, in so many ways. Back in the 1980’s when all this erupted, the motivation was not “Save the Owls.” It was (and still is) a revolutionary act of takeover. Forests managers were displaced and replaced by wildlife biologists who thought (and still think) that they know how forest ecosystems work. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

What their revolution accomplished was misery, forest destruction, economic ruin, and a steadily declining owl population. Nothing but nothing good came out of it. The misery continues. The perps are unapologetic, unable to admit their complete failure, and they are still raking the Pacific Northwest over the coals.

That’s a good metaphor because coals are what their machinations have turned our forests into.

The problem is inherently political. The struggle is political. The misery inflicted has political motivations. The politicians are still jerking us around.

Maybe there is no escape from that. Maybe the best thing is to respond with technical comments in the faint hope that rational thinking can prevail. But it is a faint hope indeed, because the whole issue remains excessively political, and rationality has no place in all that.

One political idea is to flush the system. Just clean house and send everyone who has ever made a dime off all this owl BS straight to the unemployment line. Let them experience the effects of their revolution first hand. Bankrupt them and foreclose on their homes. That would be justice.

Right now that’s how I feel about it. Maybe later I can stoop down to their level and suggest some improvements to their “science”, which is as crappy today as it has ever been.

9 Sep 2010, 10:04pm
by Bob Zybach

Tim B. makes and important point. I have maintained for many years that there are more biological differences between a pygmy and a Swede than a spotted owl and a barred owl.

This usually gets a good laugh at presentations — and even occasional gasps from the politically correct — but the reason it is so funny is because it is a true statement.

Good summary of spotted owl history, Mike. Another joke on the American taxpayer by the pseudo-science political crowd. Not so funny to home buyers and rural workers, though.

10 Sep 2010, 7:40am
by Larry H.

I never hear anyone talking about how the northern goshawk fits into this situation. It’s merely another way that the enviros will simplify the problem to get the public on their side. Of course, they can’t present difficult decisions to the public that they can’t resolve with their own dogma and junk science.

Facts are that goshawks and spotted owls share the same nesting and foraging habitat, as well as actual nests. The loss of nest trees, nest stands and nesting habitat has a doubling effect on these two listed species. That means the illegalities of the Let-Burn program are doubled, as well.

The eco’s are quite fond of saying “We’ve seen spotted owls living quite happily within the burned areas”. BIG WHOOPEE! Owls gotta eat, and they go to their foraging areas to hunt, because there is little to eat within their nesting habitats. When the nesting habitat is gone, the owls live out their lives, searching for non-existent nesting sites. It’s more of the same for the goshawks. They both are listed due to nesting habitat loss. Since these birds are also territorial, their survival is based on saving nesting habitat from complete loss.

10 Sep 2010, 10:26am
by Mike


I disagree. Goshawks predate spotted owls. That’s important because the populations of both species are governed by predator-prey relations.

Recovery #3 begins with the statement (after the lengthy Disclaimer):

…the spotted owl was listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as threatened on June 26, 2023 (USFWS 1990b) because of widespread loss of suitable habitat across the spotted owl‘s range…

But it was not and is not habitat. Like every other species out there, it’s predator-prey relationships that determine population dynamics.

Owls eat rodents. There are plenty of rodents. Owls have no problem finding prey. Their problem is that owls are prey themselves. Goshawks, eagles, other larger owls, and other raptors kill and eat spotted owls.

That’s basic wildlife biology. That’s what I mean when I say the owl biology to-date is 3rd rate. The owl “biologists” are still, after all these decades, claiming habitat is the problem and they still refuse to consider predator-prey relations. They are hopelessly stupid and wrong about that.

But we’ll get to all this soon. Again. For the umpteenth time.

10 Sep 2010, 2:04pm
by Larry H.

The nesting habitat component is rather tiny, compared to their foraging habitat, which encompasses a very wide variety of vegetation types. When the NWFP was enacted, it was thought that old growth was also their hunting grounds (Well, it is but, its just not very productive for them). A single active nests mandates about 5000 acres of protections for that “owl circle”.

Owls aren’t usually in danger when out foraging for food. They’ve played this cat and mouse game with predators for quite a long time. Sometimes the cat wins and sometimes the mouse wins. A retired USFS co-worker from central Oregon claims that there were more owls when clearcutting was rampant. Of course, the birds still had plenty of nesting habitat, so nothing was wrong. Now, with the double-whammy of catastrophic wildfires and the huge plantations, the lack of nesting habitat is more acute. Owls and goshawks DO adapt, and try to make-do with less than perfect nesting sites (which they need several of, to use on a rotating basis… Would you want to re-use a nest fouled with tons of bird crap?!?)

Add to the problems a seemingly warped idea of how to survey for the raptors and you have a very incomplete picture of what is happening in their worlds.

Another issue is the facts that these birds are territorial, and only so many birds can thrive and multiply (making even more competition). Offspring often have to leave the territory and attempt to establish one of their own. The reality is that we can’t have goshawks and spotted owls around every corner, living in perfect harmony. Their nesting habitat is at-risk to mortality and wildfire, while we standby and watch.

The ESA needed to be more specific about which habitat is being lost, and the mechanisms that are limiting it, or destroying it. Then, there’s that nagging fact that says, if the past 100 years of crummy logging hasn’t killed it off, nothing beneficial we do right now should have any negative impacts on raptors’ survivals, eh?

11 Sep 2010, 12:28pm
by Steve

Re “flush the system”. Precisely.

This is a perfect example of government employees who are and would be entirely insulated from the effects of policies they suggest we embark upon.

Any costs of living, energy etc., go into the automatic COLA increases to their salaries keeping them whole while millions of others needlessly suffer.

They recklessly propose creating millions of economic refugees in order to avoid the possibility of a few less owls?

They also require no assessment of effectiveness along the way.

It appears they are content watching the implementation of any and all punitive policies over a long period of time without anything but a [false] presumption that they are accomplishing anything at all.

They advise us that this is the only choice we are legally allowed to make.

The tyranny they impose has failed, is failing, and will fail in all its putative goals.

This particular atrocity of government is only one of thousands just like it, and it is why we need to throw the bastards out.

14 Sep 2010, 8:13am
by bear bait

The definitive study would be the one that quantifies the negative impacts of doing owl census work. People in the forest calling owls. Or is it hunters in the blind calling ducks? And to entice the owl, bait with a tethered mouse. Or fill the pond with cracked corn. Then come back to the same owl, time after time, totally habituating it to humans. In time, all you need to call an owl is pickup head lights down the spur road, or slam the pickup door. Pavlov’s owl will come a flyin’ to get the mouse morsel surely to be provided. All this works well until you hoot the owl, and the owl hoots back, and then the Great Horned owl tunes in, and the chase is on.

It could turn out, you know, that censusing the owls could be doing more to harm them than any other single human caused factor. And possible the reason for their decline. The Taming of the Spotted Owl…

So we have hatchery raised condors and peregrines. Why not owls? Oh, I get it!!!! Eureka!!! Owls are not the problem. It is human impacts on forests that is the problem, and the owl is just the handy surrogate, “canary in the coal mine.” So is owl calling, owl chasing, owl census taking, more harmful than logging? Time to get some of the EAJA money. It is time for the USFS and USFWS to prove that it is not… Sue the bastards. Sooner than later. Save the Owls!!!!



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