We have two jeers today: one for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for unleashing its insane plan to kill thousands of barred owls to “save” the spotted owl in parts of California and Oregon in the first place, and then for the federal appeals court for not stopping it.

When Friends of Animals heard of this horrific plan, we jumped into action and filed a lawsuit alongside Oregon-based advocacy group Predator Defense, accusing the government of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which lays out international agreements to prevent the extinction of bird species. Just last week the court decided killing barred owls to help threatened spotted owls isn’t prohibited by the international treaty. 

We are sick and tired of USFWS coddling the timber industry at the expense of both of these owl species. The government should be concentrating on preserving the spotted owl’s habitat rather than making a scapegoat of the barred owl. This outcome is concerning because it sets a precedent to manage species who migrate to new habitats as a result of climate change in a way that is intended to protect only the species who had previously lived there. “This could mean a lot of killing of those ‘migratory’ species,” said Mike Harris, director of Friends of Animal’s Wildlife Law Program.

“While human-induced changes in animals habitats is certainly a bad thing, once they happen animals need to be able to sort it out—even if that means some species become threatened or endangered—without human interference. We may have wrongly set the situation in motion, but we are only interfering further by trying to make it better for our ‘preferred’ species.

“What I fear most,” Harris said, “is the public becoming numb to the use of killing animals as a tool to ‘manage’ nature, and equally numb to humans overall being involved in every aspect of the lives of wild animals.”