Spotted Owl Protected Habitat

FILE - In this May 8, 2003, file photo, a Northern Spotted Owl flies after an elusive mouse jumping off the end of a stick in the Deschutes National Forest near Camp Sherman, Ore. The Trump administration has slashed more than 3 million acres of protected habitat for the northern spotted owl in Oregon, Washington and northern California, much of it in prime timber locations in Oregon's coastal ranges. Environmentalists are accusing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under President Donald Trump of taking a "parting shot" at protections designed to help restore the threatened owl species. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Political appointees in the Trump administration relied on faulty science to justify stripping habitat protections for the imperiled northern spotted owl, US wildlife officials said Tuesday as they struck down a rule that would have opened millions of acres of forest in Oregon, Washington and California to potential logging.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service reversed a decision made five days before Trump left office to drastically shrink so-called critical habitat for the spotted owl. The small, reclusive bird has been in decline for decades as old-growth forests disappear. 

The Associated Press obtained details on Tuesday’s action prior to it being made public.

Government biologists objected to the changes under Trump and warned they would put the spotted owl on a path to extinction, documents show. 

But Trump’s Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and former Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith dismissed those concerns — instead adopting a plan to lift restrictions on more land than even the timber industry had sought.

Officials said in documents provided to AP that Bernhardt and Skipwith underestimated the threat of extinction and relied on a faulty interpretation of the science to reach their decision.

Bernhardt defended his handling of the matter, telling AP in an email that Congress gave the interior secretary authority to exclude areas from protection. 

Bernhardt said the agency’s “reasonable certainty” the owl would go extinct did not match the law’s requirement that habitat be protected lest a species “will” go extinct.

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

Never forget the Associated Press "and its staff" is nothing more than Human Trash (IMHO). Right up there with the CNN Dirtbags, and the MSNBC Scum (IMHO) (lets not forget the traitors at ABC News). Never trust the B.S. that these bottom feeders spew...If you do... you too will look like an idiot....A "Woke Idiot"

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