Indeed, the common thread among many recent decisions by wildlife agencies is the placing of the gun before science and ethics. Orders to kill (or as wildlife officials prefer to call it, "cull") animals as a means to "manage" their populations or to "protect" native flora and fauna are abundant. In just the past few years, the government has overseen the slaughter of wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, elk, deer and numerous bird species, including both barred and snowy owls.
Shooting as a means of a wildlife management has become so prevalent for a rather simple reason: It allows wildlife officials to avoid having to make decisions that place ecological needs before economic wants.
The barred owl decision is reflective of this truth. It is well documented that the northern spotted owl population has been in decline for more than 40 years. Habitat destruction, primarily due to logging of old growth forest was the primary reason the northern spotted owl was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. And while nearly 6.9 million acres of forest are designated as habitat critical to the recovery and survival of the northern spotted owl, as recently as 2012, USFWS issued new exclusions from the designation to allow additional logging.