Close to 3.4 million acres of protected habitat were stripped from Northern Spotted Owls in 2020. With more than 70% of their habitat already gone, these imperiled birds are hurtling toward extinction.
“Robust critical habitat protections are essential to ensuring the survival of the northern spotted owl. The Trump administration’s arbitrary and sweeping reduction of protected areas was conducted without public input or scientific basis. Interior is reviewing the Trump administration’s rollback of northern spotted owl critical habitat designations to adequately protect this threatened species and the habitat it needs for recovery,” a U.S. Department of Interior spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post.
The Biden Administration has since proposed a reversal to that decision, which could restore those 3.4 million acres of critical habitat to spotted owls.
“To use the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s own words, Trump’s rule, which slashed critical habitat for northern spotted owls, was insufficiently justified, insufficiently rational, defective, filled with short-comings, and factually inaccurate,” said Kathleen Gobush, Northwest director for Defenders of Wildlife. “We are very pleased to see President Biden and FWS taking such quick action to withdraw the rule and reinforce the conservation needs of northern spotted owls.”
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.