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Administration cuts spotted owl habitat

Herald and News 8/13/08

GRANTS PASS - The Bush administration has decided that the northern spotted owl can get by with less old growth forest babitat 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. Critical habitat is a requirement of the Endangered Species Act and offers increased, though not absolute, protections against logging.

Meanwhile, owl numbers are dropping by 4 percent a year from a combination of habitat lost to logging and wildfire and an invasion of its habitat by the barred owl, as more aggressive East Coast cousin that migrated across Canada and been working its way south.

Both the plan and the habitat designation appear certain to be headed for court.

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