New Recovery Plan Raises Concern for the Mexican Spotted Owl



Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210,



Mexian Spotted Owls by Dave Palmer
Mexian Spotted Owls by Dave Palmer

(Washington, D.C., January 14, 2013) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has released a controversial new final Mexican Spotted Owl Recovery Plan that  American Bird Conservancy is concerned supports forest management techniques that may be harmful to the Spotted Owl and its prey, which are adapted to forest fires.


“The proposed high levels of thinning and fuel reduction for spotted owl habitat have not been shown to support populations of Mexican Spotted Owls,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor for American Bird Conservancy. “We urge the U.S.D.A. Forest Service to take a cautious approach and avoid logging within or near the owl’s Protected Activity Centers and to instead focus fuel treatments and thinning near homes and communities where agency research has demonstrated they are most effective.”


The Mexican Spotted Owl, which occurs in the States of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, and south through the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental in Mexico, was listed as threatened in 1993 under the Endangered Species Act. FWS completed the original recovery plan for the Mexican Spotted Owl in 1995.


A federal judge concluded in 2011 that without owl monitoring data, the agency was unable to prove the species was not being harmed by proposed logging projects. The court found that the Forest Service had not been monitoring the species’ population. Conservationists now question whether conducting forest restoration within and around occupied sites (called Protected Activity Centers or PACs) to protect Mexican spotted owls from the impacts of wild fires should be the management priority.  


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American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.