"Feds Want Endangered Species Protection For Feisty Owl"

"The Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed restoring federal protections for a tiny desert owl that fights above its weight class.

Following a 12-month assessment, the agency said it is proposing to list the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The owl lives in Mexico, southern Arizona and southern Texas, though FWS said a critical habitat designation is “not determinable at this time.”

“In Arizona and [the] Northern Sonoran [area], pygmy-owl habitat loss and fragmentation resulting from urbanization, changing fire regimes due to the invasion of buffelgrass, and agricultural development and woodcutting are significant threats,” FWS said.

The Arizona population is estimated to be in the low hundreds, while the Texas and Northern Sonoran region’s populations are estimated to be in the high hundreds. The western Mexico area is “estimated to have tens of thousands of pygmy-owls,” according to FWS."

Michael Doyle reports for E&E News December 21, 2021.

Source: E&E News, 12/22/2021