Spotted owl populations have plummeted over the past several years despite a decade of protection. Scientists measuring the decline say their populations are decreasing at a rate of 4 percent a year. Turns out, the main culprit is a much larger owl called the Barred owl. It has moved in from the East Coast and has encroached on the smaller owl's territory in Northern California. The Barred owl will also sometimes eat spotted owls and even breed with them, producing what scientists are calling the Sparred Owl.
Now the challenge is figuring out how to manage both owls in the forest, while preserving the Spotted Owl species - the most studied bird in the world, according to wildlife biologist Michael Stephens. He says over a dozen individuals will spend the entire summer surveying spotted owls in Mendocino county alone. Tune in to learn more.