CORVALLIS - About 50 federal, state, university and private scientists converged on the Oregon State University campus today for a 10-day analysis of how well northern spotted owl populations are getting along.
The crow-sized bird's addition to the federal endangered species list in 1990 led to cutbacks in western harvests of certain types of older forests and to changes in other land management practices.
"We're really interested in what we find because the last time we did this, in 1993, the news was not very positive," said Bob Anthony, an OSU wildlife professor who also heads the Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, part of the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey.
"With the 1993 analysis, there probably hadn't been enough time for much change - only three years since the listing," said Anthony. "But now it's been eight years. That's about half the spotted owl's normal longevity, or one generation length. Also, there hasn't been much harvesting of old-growth timber. We hope the news will be more positive this time."
The scientists are working in rooms at OSU's LaSells Stewart Center filled with computers and studies of the bird conducted at 16 sites in Oregon, Washington and California.
Their goals include estimating reproduction rates across the bird's range, estimating survival rates of juvenile, sub-adult and adults, estimating the annual rate of population changes, and investigating the migration rates of juvenile spotted owls.
Also, Anthony said, the analysis may provide valuable information on the status of the bird's populations as related to the Northwest Forest Plan, which has reduced the harvest of certain types of older forests with the bird's range.
Sponsors of the workshop are the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. The sessions are not open to the public.
A final report will be submitted to the sponsoring agencies by April 1, Anthony said, but the scientists plan to make some preliminary information available to agencies and the public in about two weeks.