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MEXICAN SPOTTED OWL } Strix occidentalis lucida

RANGE: From the four-corner states southward into west Texas and Mexico’s Sierra Madre; nearly 90 percent of known territories exist on Forest Service lands in Arizona and New Mexico.

STATUS: Listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act

THREATS: Logging, urban encroachment, mining, large-scale recreational developments, and wildfire

Because of their intense dependence on ancient forests for survival, spotted owls are often flagship species for conservation and lightning rods for political controversy. The Mexican spotted owl is the Southwest’s most famous old-growth resident: Sadly, by the late 1980s — at the height of logging operations in the national forests — biologists estimated that only 2,000 of these beautiful birds remained in the world. Despite protection under the Endangered Species Act, which came as a result of scientific and legal action by the Center for Biological Diversity, the species’ numbers are still declining as it continues to lose habitat to logging, development, mining, and wildfire.


Photo © Robin Silver