conservation ethics: spotted owl vs barred owl

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Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society presents a small commentary on the conservation actions taken to help protect the endangered spotted owl by the culling of barred owls.

TRANSCRIPT

  • Preservation Through Education

    THE NORTHWEST WILDLIFE PRESERVATION SOCIETY

    C O N S E R V A T I O N E T H I C S S P O T T E D O W L V S B A R R E D O W L

  • The natural world works in a fasci-

    nating equilibrium. Human conser-

    vation management has become a

    necessity due to negative repercus-

    sions of our actions. British Colum-

    bia is home to an amazing range of

    wildlife. Unfortunately, the number

    of endangered and extirpated spe-

    cies continues to climb. Human ac-

    tivity is the main reason why the en-

    dangered species list is steadily

    growing. One endangered species in

    particular, the spotted owl, has been

    frequenting the news in the Pacific

    Northwest for a number of years

    and can be seen in headlines across

    the United States and Canada. Part

    of the controversy has been the con-

    servation plan which prescribed the

    culling of barred owls. Both owls are

    native species and have co-existed

    for many years but now the barred

    owl is seen as a rival that is out-

    competing the spotted owl.

    In conservation sciences many scien-

    tists believe that organisms have in-

    trinsic worth. An organism has the

    right to exist as a separate entity.

    When creating management plans it

    is easy to reinforce the worth of cer-

    tain species based on the integral

    role it plays in an ecosystem or the

    added value that humans benefit

    from. Besides all of the added values

    a species may contribute, they also

    have intrinsic value. One reason

    some people may not believe in pro-

    tection of endangered species is be-

    cause extinction is a normal function

    of the natural world. Losing species

    in large numbers has occurred in the

    past, these events are called mass

    extinctions. We are currently enter-

    ing a phase of mass extinction called

    the Holocene extinction. This is the

    first mass extinction to be caused by

    one species, Homo sapiens. The cur-

    rent extinction rate is around 2.5% a

    year whereas past extinction rates

    are estimated to be less than one

    species per year. Human activity

    plays a large role in the accelerated

    rate of extinction.

    C O N S E R V A T I O N E T H I C S S P O T T E D O W L V S B A R R E D O W L

    Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society 720-1190 Melville Street Vancouver BC, V6E 3W1 t 604.568.4907 f 604-568-6152 w www.northwestwildlife.com 1

  • S P O T T E D O W L

    Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society 720-1190 Melville Street Vancouver BC, V6E 3W1 t 604.568.4907 f 604-568-6152 w www.northwestwildlife.com 2

  • The main contributors to species loss are habitat destruction, pollution of

    the environment, and overharvesting. Habitat destruction includes frag-

    mentation which degrades the quality of the habitat. Another factor is habi-

    tat loss which is often caused by urban encroachment and urban conver-

    sion. The more an area is polluted, direct harm can come to wildlife as well

    as a decrease in their food source and habitat. Overharvesting of an area al-

    so contributes to the loss of the resources a species may need to sustain a

    healthy population.

    B A R R E D O W L

    Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society 720-1190 Melville Street Vancouver BC, V6E 3W1 t 604.568.4907 f 604-568-6152 w www.northwestwildlife.com 3

  • Plans across North America cropped up to relocate and exterminate the

    barred owl seeing as they have similar habitat and food source needs as

    the spotted owl. In order for the natural oscillation between two competi-

    tive species to occur, a threshold of the resources they are competing for

    cant dip below a certain level. Conservation plans that ensure there is a

    sufficient area of habitat and large enough food source encourages the nat-

    ural oscillation to take place around the biological equilibrium of those two

    species. The underlying problem is not the barred owl out-competing the

    spotted owl, it is the lack of habitat which is leading to an insufficient food

    source. With the individuals in the barred owl population being targeted,

    this is not the first time a species quality of life and right to exist has been

    compromised in conservation efforts of another species.

    Works Cited:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/extinction_events

    http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/intrinsic-value-ecology-and-conservation-25815400

    http://www.npr.org/2014/01/15/262735123/to-save-threatened-owl-another-species-is-shot

    http://www.rug.nl/research/theoretical-biology/_pdf/hw02_ecores.pdf

    http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Glimmer+hope+endangered+owls/9860860/story.html

    Publication by Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society and written by Anitra Paris

    David Patte/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society 720-1190 Melville Street Vancouver BC, V6E 3W1 t 604.568.4907 f 604-568-6152 w www.northwestwildlife.com 4

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