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Judge: Feds Failed To Monitor Mexican Spotted Owl

Shaula Hedwall / US Forest Service

A judge has ruled that federal agencies have failed to monitor the threatened Mexican Spotted Owl population. The ruling stops prescribed burns and forest thinning in all of New Mexico’s National Forests to prevent accidental destruction of the owl’s habitat.

Habitat destruction is major cause of the Mexican spotted owl’s populations decline. 

The advocate group Wildlife Guardians filed the lawsuit in 2012 saying both the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service have failed to begin the recovery of the bird.

Forest Service officials say the language in the ruling is too broad and they’ve requested clarification from the judge.

The global Mexican spotted owl population is expected to decline by 25–50%, according to the National Park Service.

There is no date as to when prescribed burns and forest thinning can resume.

Correction: The Mexican spotted owl is listed as threatened, not endangered as we originally reported. This story has been edited to reflect that.

Bryce Dix is our local host for NPR's Morning Edition.
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