Over the next four years the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to kill 3,600 barred owls to save the spotted owl from extinction.

When researchers killed barred owls in a northern California management experiment, threatened spotted owls returned to nesting sites. (Photo: California Academy of Sciences)

Larger and more aggressive than spotted owls, and able to adapt to denuded forest environments spotted owls can’t tolerate (thanks to the forest industry and its mantra of “sustained yield”), barred owls have taken over much of the spotted owl’s territory in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.

Northern Spotted Owl. (Photo: Robin Loznak)

An ethicist was hired to help guide the decision to do this. Hard to imagine a right answer.

Read the full story on Oregon Live.