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Killing Spotted Owls with Chainsaws: "Covert" Clearcuts Found Near Hope, BC

In the race against time to prevent the Canadian population of spotted owls from going extinct, biologist Andy Miller reports that this is one of the strangest things he's seen. "Why would a logging company purposefully fall trees in an area with a documented nest of one of Canada's most endangered species?"
The government of British Columbia, Canada is still handing out licenses to wipe out the last remaining Northern Spotted Owls in Canada. Cattermole Timber and other small logging operations are rushing in to clearcut where Big Timber fears to tread, targeting remnants of old-growth spotted owl habitat in southern BC.

Currently, fewer than two dozen birds survive in BC's fragmented landscape, and only two nests have been documented this year. This week, biologists found an active logging operation in one of the nest sites.

Thanks to the provincial small business logging program, experts predict Canada's spotted owl population will be extinct in five years or less. Observers now say there may be no new chicks hatched next year or anytime in the future. BC has no protection for endangered species, and the federal Species at Risk Act doesn't cover provincial forests.

Here's the report from the Western Canada Wilderness Committee:

Wilderness Committee discovers Cattermole Timber logging endangered spotted owl nest site

by Andy Miller
Thursday July 06, 2006

Vancouver, British ColumbiaŚWestern Canada Wilderness Committee announced today that its biologist had discovered a site near Hope, BC where Cattermole Timber Ltd. had recently fallen small patches of old growth forest with trees over 200 years old in an area known to have the nest of a spotted owl, one of the most endangered species in Canada.

"It was a sad sight," commented Andy Miller, the Wilderness Committee's spotted owl biologist. "With all these small areas of felled trees dispersed over the hillside I can only hope and pray that the company did not cut down the owl's nest tree," said Miller. Despite repeated attempts by government endangered species specialists to stop the logging, and protracted court cases by environmentalists, the logging company has doggedly pursued its right to cut because BC has no laws explicitly designed to protect endangered species.

The logs that Cattermole Timber felled in a series of mini-clearcuts in the Anderson Valley located north of Hope near the Fraser Canyon, were not removed. They were simply left on the ground. "It appears," said Miller, "that this covert logging operation was not completed, and that the loggers quickly abandoned the site for unknown reasons." Miller reported that it looked as if the fallers came in and left by helicopter because each of the four clearcut sites had a heli-pad. There are no roads in this part of the Anderson Valley, which still has some of the old forests that spotted owls need to survive. From across the valley one cannot even tell that tree felling has occurred, possibly eliminating another spotted owl nest.

Nevertheless, in the race against time to prevent the Canadian population of spotted owls from going extinct, Miller reports that this is one of the strangest things he's seen. "Why would a logging company purposefully fall trees in an area with a documented nest of one of Canada's most endangered species?"

Historically, there were an estimated 500 pairs of spotted owls in southwestern BC; by 1990, the number had reduced to approximately 50 pairs. Today there are less than two dozen spotted owls left, and only 2 active nest sites, due to on-going logging of their old growth forest habitat. At the current rate of logging, the species is expected to be eliminated from Canada by 2010, in time for the Winter Olympics.

"The situation is critical for the spotted owl. The government needs to enact provincial endangered species legislation that would ban the logging of owl habitat by companies like Cattermole Timber before they drive this species into extinction, especially since extinction is likely to occur in front of the eyes of the world while BC is on the Winter Olympics stage," said Miller.

Link to original story: media.wildernesscommittee.org/new....php
Link to Zoe Blunt's blog, The Latest Shit:  http://people.tribe.net/zoe_blunt
Wilderness Committee Spotted Owl Info 11.Jul.2006 15:49

Zoe

Here's the link to the Committee's campaign:
 http://www.wildernesscommittee.org/campaigns/species/forest/spotted_owl/

Note: The Western Canada Wilderness Committee is suing to protect the Spotted Owl under Canada's Species at Risk Act. It is a faint hope for the owl, however; the Act does not compel the province to take action.