A species of owl that is native to Michigan is now being perceived as an invasive species, and in areas where it has become a nuisance, the U.S. Government is now requesting that it be removed.

It sounds odd, but yes, the U.S. Government is authorizing certain land managers and landowners, with proper approval, to hire trained professionals to "take out" a very large number of barred owls.

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The U.S. FIsh and WIldlife Service released information this week about the Barred Owl, and how it has become an invasive species in the Pacific Northwest. The owl is actually indigenous to the eastern seaboard and Upper Midwest in the U.S., including Michigan, but over the decades, has migrated through Canada, and built up a population in Washington and Oregon.

The Barred Owl known habitats, growing exponentially in the Pacific Northwest. /Wikipedia/Canva
The Barred Owl known habitats, growing exponentially in the Pacific Northwest. /Wikipedia/Canva

With its growth in population, the U.S. Government has noticed a significant decrease in the spotted owl population, and have now deemed the Barred Owl an invasive species in the the Pacific Northwest.

Jeffrey R. Dunk is a conservation lecturer at Humboldt State University, and spoke to Newsweek about the issue.

"A recent study found that northern spotted owl populations in areas that received experimental Barred owl control (removal) declined at an average rate of 0.2 percent per year, whereas northern spotted owl populations in areas that did not receive barred owl control declined at an average rate of 12.1 percent per year."

A culling, or removal of around 20,000 of the Barred owl in recent years had some results, but not near enough. Now, the U.S. Government is asking hunters and landowners to get involved, and have asked that more than 500,000 Barred owls be culled to help protect other native species.

Their plan is for landowners or land managers to apply for a permit to have the owls killed, and that a large-bore shotgun would be the choice weapon, or if people are closeby, use capture and euthanasia methods.


They hope to cull, or eliminate, about 30% of the national Barred owl population in North America, which they believe should prevent further increased population decline of the Spotted owl.

Kessina Lee, the state supervisor for the Oregon office of Fish and Wildlife Services emphasises that, while it seems cruel, it's necessary to save another species.

"We know we can't fully eradicate them, but we know we can create [refuge] areas with much lower barred owl density that allows spotted owls to survive and thrive."

THe only areas, however, that might allow this activity would be in the Pacific Northwest, where the owl is considered a nuisance. For any questions, or inquiries, contact the Fish and Wildlife Services.

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