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Feds sued over denial of spotted owl protection

The Spokesman-Review

SAN FRANCISCO – Environmental groups sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday, alleging the agency wrongfully denied protected status to the California spotted owl.

The lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court challenges the service’s decision in 2003 not to list the owl under the Endangered Species Act.

The environmental groups claim the owl, which lives in old-growth forests in the Sierra Nevada, is threatened by logging.

The Fish and Wildlife Service declined to comment.

The lawsuit says the service’s 2003 decision assumed that the owl’s habitat would be protected by a Clinton administration plan that restricted logging of old-growth forests.

But in January, the Bush administration tripled the amount of logging permitted in the Sierra Nevada and removed protections for the owl and old-growth forests, the lawsuit says.

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