Killing half a million raptors (to save others from extinction): the crazy proposal in the USA

In the USA, to protect some birds of prey, biologists and other experts are evaluating drastic solutions, which could start a massacre with the elimination of hundreds of thousands of specimens of another species of bird of prey

In a controversial move, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a management plan that may lead to the culling of hundreds of thousands of birds to protect vulnerable native species such as raptors. This plan aims to safeguard the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), a native bird of the western North American region that is currently endangered.

The threat of the barred owl

One of the main threats to the northern spotted owl is the barred owl (Strix varia). Originally from the eastern part of North America, the barred owl has rapidly expanded its range into the habitat of the spotted owl. The two species now compete for habitat and resources, leading to a drastic decline in the population of the endangered spotted owl.

Proposed measures for intervention

To address this issue, one proposed measure is to remove up to half a million barred owls over the next 30 years in Washington, Oregon, and California. This long-term project is still in the draft phase and includes various alternatives, such as the elimination of barred owls in the affected areas.

Previous experiments and findings

A few years ago, a scientific study conducted a preliminary experiment in five study areas, resulting in the culling of nearly 2,500 barred owls. The findings showed signs of recovery in the spotted owl population, albeit at the expense of the barred owls.

Ongoing debate among experts

Since then, biologists and other experts have been debating possible solutions. Opinions are sharply divided, making it difficult to reach a consensus even after thorough analysis.

Wayne Pacelle of Animal Wellness Action expressed strong opposition, stating,

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is transforming from a protector of wildlife to a persecutor of wildlife.” He also emphasized that culling will not prevent the species from migrating to new territories.

Ethical considerations

If the proposal receives approval, the culling could start as early as next spring. This measure raises significant ethical questions. Is it ethical to condemn some animals to death in order to protect others?


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