U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s issuance of permits that allow barred owls to be slaughtered is in direct conflict of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Friends of Animals said in a submission to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation—comprised of Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

In its legal proposal to ask the Commission to get FWS to comply with the MBTA, FoA said the scientific collection permits that allow the barred owls to be killed to study the effects of their absence on the northern spotted owl conflicts with MBTA because the killings do not yield any conservation benefit to, or scientific understanding of, barred owls

The proposal also states that logging companies’ economic interests in old-growth forests has historically been, and still is, the northern spotted owl’s greatest threat to survival, not barred owls.

“FWS has continually violated an international convention with its short-sighted experiment to kill thousands of barred owls,” said Jennifer Best, assistant legal director of Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program. “Barred owls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and can only be killed in limited circumstances. The U.S. government is murdering these birds under the guise of a ‘scientific use,’ but the truth is that the barred owls are not being used for anything and the government is violating its commitment to protect and conserve these birds. FWS’ decision works to the advantage of U.S. companies, who are given a free pass to harvest timber without adequately protecting the northern spotted owl.”

Friends of Animals has brought its arguments to the attention of the U.S. courts, but has not yet been successful in putting an end to this senseless killing.

FWS launched its horrific barred owl removal experiment in 2013 in Oregon, Washington and northern California. Federal wildlife researchers have killed at least 883 barred owls from 2015-17, and the latest “progress” report says “initial experimental removals of barred owls had little measurable effect on occupancy and reproduction of northern spotted owls after the first one to two years of implementation.”

“Friends of Animals hopes its petition to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation can lead the U.S. to stop killing protected barred owls and prevent any similar actions before they start,” Best said. “Even amid this lethal experimentation, U.S. government agencies acknowledge the most crucial factor for northern spotted owl survival is habitat conservation. In the meantime, FWS’ short sightedness in its experiments could cost thousands of animals their lives as climate change continues to press species from their natural range.”

Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in N.Y. in 1957 and headquartered in Darien, CT, advocates for the rights of free-living and domestic animals. FoA is proud to be a woman-founded and -led organization for more than 60 years.