The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to start dispatching hunters into Northwest forests this fall to start a last-ditch effort to save the threatened northern spotted owl from extinction.
The agency on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing more than 3,000 barred owls in four study areas in Oregon, Washington and Northern California will help spotted owls -- a threatened species -- recover. Final approval is due in a month.
If it works -- and there are other studies indicating it will -- a regular program to reduce barred owl populations would be considered.
Barred owls are a bigger, more aggressive cousin of the spotted owl. They are less picky about food and forests, and they threaten the spotted owl's survival.