Giving a Hoot: What we can do to save these unique owls

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SUMMIT HILL, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Last week the Fish and Wildlife Service reversed a previous decision to drastically reduce habitat space in the northwest for the Northern Spotted Owl.

This means land that would have been used for logging will now remain a critical habitat space for the threatened owl.

The Northern Spotted Owl is being faced with something that affects almost all species: habitat loss.

Jeanie Carl with the Carbon County Environmental Education Center says that this is an increasing problem.

“What is the habitat? Food, water, shelter, space. All the things that are required. So when those things change, obviously that’s going to affect the animals,” Carl said.

Habitat loss means loss of life for many animals. Animals that include the Northern Spotted Owl.

“I know there are about 2,000 left in the Washington/Oregon area. That sounds like a lot but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t,” said Carl.

While the recent decision is likely great news, the Spotted Owl faces an invasive species that are quite common in the northeast, the Barred Owl.

“When you have a new species coming into an area, they are territorial. They’re just like us where we have our homes and our real estate. We don’t want to give that up. So it does put those animals under stress,” Carl explained.

Forests and wetlands are the preferred habitats of both owls. Some wetlands in Pennsylvania are also facing reductions as humans continue to spread out.

“People don’t realize how vital wetlands are to the ecosystem and to the animals that live there. They are nurseries and filters and the animals that are migrating stop off in wetlands. It’s like a buffet. They have lots of food they can chow down and then move on themselves,” Carl said.

The question remains: Is there anything that can be done to ensure other species continue to exist?

“Encouraging places for the wildlife to congregate. If you have songbirds you may have owls eating that songbird. Everything is connected. Somebody is eating somebody else,” Carl said.

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