Administration cuts spotted owl habitat

August 14, 2008 9:31:42 AM PDT
The Bush administration has decided that the northern spotted owl can get by with less old growth forest habitat as it struggles to get off the threatened species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday it would cut by 23 percent the federal forest land designated as critical habitat for the owl in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Designating critical habitat for protection is a requirement of the Endangered Species Act.

Meanwhile, owl numbers are dropping by 4 percent a year.

Conservation groups say the critical habitat designation and a new plan for restoring owl populations are contrary to the advice of leading scientists and are crafted to fulfill a Bush administration promise to the timber industry to increase logging.

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