Northern Spotted Owl Continues to Decline – Endangered Listing Needed

Steve Holmer: 202-888-7490, Email click here

Spotted Owl, Chris Warren

Spotted Owl, Chris Warren

(Washington, D.C., April 7, 2015) The status of the Northern Spotted Owl will be reviewed under the Endangered Species Act, a decision which could lead to uplisting of the Threatened subspecies to Endangered, a change supported by American Bird Conservancy. Endangered status is warranted by the owl's rapid population decline and scientific studies indicating that habitat loss and the Barred Owl's incursion into Northwest forests are harming the Northern Spotted Owl.

“American Bird Conservancy appreciates that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking this action to help reverse the Northern Spotted Owl's spiral toward extinction” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor for American Bird Conservancy.

Long-term demography studies which make up the federal government's monitoring program for the species show that in 2013 populations in all eight study areas were in decline and well below historic averages for both total numbers and breeding success.

“In the Tyee demographic study area near Roseburg, Oregon, the population has seen a severe drop in the last five years; only 29 owl pairs were found in 2013 compared to 66 pairs ten years ago,” said Holmer. "The number of females nesting has decreased, as has the average number of offspring.”

The Tyee researchers concluded that “the last three years of reproduction have been the lowest on record and resulted in the fewest number of young produced.”

Monitoring in northwestern California found that over the past five years, owl detections have decreased 30 percent. In Oregon's Coast Range study area, the percentage of sites with spotted owl detection has declined from a high of 88 percent in 1991 to a low of 23 percent in 2013. For three consecutive years no sub-adult owls were seen.

The Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) submitted a reclassification petition for the northern spotted owl to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on August 15, 2012.


American Bird Conservancy is the Western Hemisphere's bird conservation specialist—the only organization with a single and steadfast commitment to achieving conservation results for native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With a focus on efficiency and working in partnership, we take on the toughest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on sound science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation.