Stupid Human Tricks: The sad case of the Spotted Owl

...Spotted owls, we were told a decade ago, were disappearing because big bad timber companies were cutting down “old growth” forests.” So the environmental movement rushed to the forests, hugged the trees and issued news releases to decry the evils of the logging industry. Save the owl. Save the trees. Kill the timber industry.

Of course, that was exactly the point. Kill the timber industry. As a result of the hysteria to save the “endangered” owls, U.S. timber sales were reduced by 80-90%, forcing saw mills to close, loggers to go broke, and whole towns which depended on the industry to literally disappear. The federal crackdown on the industry caused a shift in U.S. domestic lumber supplies to foreign soils. In short, American industry suffered in the name of protecting the spotted owl. Turns out is wasn’t true.

A decade and a half, and thousands of broken dreams later, comes this report from the federal government on the real reasons for the spotted owl’s endangerment: “Oops.”

According to a government draft plan produced during the Bush Administration to save the species, scientists are no longer saying the greatest threat to the Spotted Owl is logging activity. “The draft recovery plan recognizes the primary threat to northern spotted owls as competition with barred owls.” According to the report, barred owls are less selective about the habitat they use and the prey they feed upon and are out competing northern spotted owls for habitat and food, causing its decline.

In fact, for the entire decade and a half since the issue emerged on the political scene, the property rights and land use movements have been reporting the fact that the spotted owl is only a sub-species of Mexican spotted owls, which are not endangered at all...

It was no secret that the spotted owl didn’t need “old growth forests” to survive, since spotted owls were found living under bridges and in McDonald signs. What it needed was a good food source like any other species. Now we know it was undercut by another owl – a completely natural occurrence.

... Some in the [environmental] movement have even candidly admitted that if they hadn’t had the spotted owl they would have invented something like it to drive their agenda. In fact they did invent it and the purpose was to destroy the timber industry and private property rights. They called it an environmental emergency....

...So, will the same federal government which rushed to impose harsh treatment of innocent property owners and industry now roll back those stifling regulations and let freedom breath? Of course not. Agendas are agendas, regardless of the facts.

So instead, after the nation spent millions of dollars to destroy an industry private property rights, still, the government plans to spend $200 million more on a “barred owl removal plan” in order to save the spotted owl...