by Tim Manns
Washington State Legislative Session: The session currently underway goes through March 7th. For a one-page summary of Audubon Washington’s legislative priorities go to 2024_audubon_legislative_priorities_one_pager_12.2023_2.pdf. On the Skagit Audubon website (Skagit Audubon Society - Home), scroll down to “2024 Legislative Session-Audubon Washington Priorities” for a link to Audubon Washington’s legislative tracker (Bill Tracker: 2024 Legislative Session | Audubon Washington). The “Take Action” link with each bill listed allows easily communicating your support to your state representatives and senator. Each bill number links to the particular bill’s page on the legislature’s website. There you can find the bill’s text, related reports, and where it stands in the legislative process. On a particular bill’s page, scroll down to “Bill History, 2024 Regular Session” to see what committee is currently considering the bill. At the upper left of the page, click on “Legislative Committees,” then on the relevant House or Senate committee to find the date when the committee will hold a hearing on the bill. From there you can go to a page where you may be able to enter your support for or opposition to the particular bill before the hearing and testify via zoom if you wish. Alternatively, on any page of the Legislature Home (wa.gov) website, scroll to the bottom of the page and at the left click on “Comment on a Bill,” “Participate in Committee Hearings,” etc. Legislators want to hear from us, and this website makes it easy.
Barred Owl Management Strategy: As mentioned in the December and January Conservation Notes (Skagit Audubon Society - Conservation Notes), within its responsibility for implementing the Endangered Species Act the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposes to remove non-native, invasive Barred Owls from parts of the range of the Northern Spotted Owl. Since the highly adaptable Barred Owl arrived in the Northwest about fifty years ago, its numbers have greatly expanded, increasingly displacing the Northern Spotted Owl, which has been on the Endangered Species List since 1990. Scientists now project that the Northern Spotted Owl will be extinct in one to several decades if Barred Owls are not removed from at least some of the Spotted Owl’s range. The six alternatives in the environmental impact statement (EIS) accompanying the proposed strategy include the “No Action” alternative required in every EIS and five “Action” alternatives, all calling for killing Barred Owls. In mid-January Skagit Audubon submitted a comment letter supporting the USFWS strategy and suggesting a number of adjustments. The chapter’s board vote on this letter was not unanimous. Several members expressed strong reservations about killing one species to benefit another. Some members voting in favor expressed strong reservations about not taking action when that decision likely would mean extinction for the Northern Spotted Owl and possibly for another subspecies, the California Spotted Owl. To read Skagit Audubon’s letter, go to https://skagitaudubon.org/conservation/notes.
For information on conservation issues and advocacy, see Conservation Notes on the Skagit Audubon website (www.skagitaudubon.org) under the Conservation tab.