Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl: Protected Once More

Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl: Protected Once More

The Center of Biological Diversity posted on March 30th, 2017 about how a federal judge in Arizona overturned a decision in 2011 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deny endangered species protection of the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl. This is thanks to the lawsuit brought up by the Center of Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife.

Cactus ferruginous pygmy owls are so small that you can apparently fit one into your hand. According to the Defenders of Wildlife, this subspecies of the ferruginous pygmy owl has “longer tails than most owls, [is] reddish-brown with a cream colored belly and [has] a crown that is lightly streaked. Cactus ferruginous pygmy-owls have yellow eyes and no ear tufts.”  There are not many of them left and they are likely to go extinct in the United States.

The biggest threat of their survival is how they have lost most of their habitat, primarily from wild fires spreading farther with buffel grass, an invasive plant species. “Cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl[s] are threatened by habitat loss, particularly the loss of at least 85% of Arizona’s riparian areas due to development, livestock grazing, water withdrawal and other factors. Climate change may worsen other threats, particularly the spread of invasive species and an increase in fires” (Defenders of Wildlife).

cactusferruginouspygmyowl_robinsilver_2_fpwc_highres
Picture taken from here.

The main argument was whether or not they should be protected as a whole, as in the owls struggle to survive in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and northern Mexico, but the agency claimed their populations were secure elsewhere. Therefore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service felt that their efforts should be focused on other things. The article explains the situation better in this paragraph here:

“Under the Endangered Species Act, an endangered species is defined as any species that is ‘in danger of extinction in all or a significant of portion of its range,’ meaning that a species need not be at risk everywhere it occurs to qualify for protection. The policy just overturned by the court, however, set a higher bar by requiring not only that a species be endangered in a portion of its range, but also that the loss of that portion threaten the survival of the species as a whole. In the case of pygmy owls, this meant that even though there is no disagreement that the species is at risk of being lost in the Sonoran Desert, it was denied protection because it may survive elsewhere” (Center of Biological Diversity).

cactus-ferruginous-pygmy-owl-8
Picture taken from here.

Hopefully, this federal protection will change the fate of these owls as their population continues to decrease more each year. It just doesn’t make sense to not cover everyone once they are declared as endangered; all of them anywhere are a “significant” part towards recovery. “Since 1996, authorities in Arizona have found anywhere from 12 – 41 adult pygmy owls a year, and in 2006, surveyors spotted only 28 owls. The population in northern Mexico is also imperiled, with a documented 4.4 percent decline per year for the past seven years, or a 26 percent decline overall since 2000” (Defenders of Wildlife).

The fight to protect the cactus ferruginous pygmy owls has constantly gone back and forth ever since 1992 when the Center of Biological Diversity first petitioned for them. Let’s pray that this nonsense is now over so that they can have an actual chance to become stable again in Arizona and Mexico.

That is all for now, thank you for reading and please like and share this post to spread the good news. If you’d like to read other similar posts, check out my recent Sumatran Elephants: Their Struggle Against Poaching and Palm Oil and Update on Bengal Tigers. Have a great day!

*The featured image was taken from here.

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