Vol. 3 No. 1 (2021)

Impact of Barred Owls on Northern Spotted Owls

Kayla Breunig
The University of Dubuque

Published 2017-10-10 — Updated on 2021-04-13



  • barred owl,
  • northern spotted owl,
  • invasive species,
  • superspecies


The fight to preserve the northern spotted owl has been ongoing since the 1980’s when millions of acres of old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest were lost to logging companies. The logging was halted in 1990 when the United States government listed the northern spotted owl as an endangered species. Even with these laws in place that conserved their habitat, the northern spotted owl still continued to decline due to the recent invasion of barred owls into the Pacific Northwest forests. These two owls are considered superspecies and have very similar niches in habitat and diet preferences that has led to direct competition between them that the barred owl has appeared to dominate in so far. Many are now looking into the best way to control and decrease the influx barred owls. The most popular solution to this issue is the culling of barred owls, but that has led to questions on the ethics of culling an invasive species and how it will impact management of invasive species throughout the world.