The recent ruling in U.S. District Court over forest thinning and Mexican spotted owl protections (“Ruling on owl halts logging in Southwest,” Sept. 20; “Forest Service resumes firewood permits,” Oct. 2) is unfortunate for both owls and humans.
It is true that we need to invest in monitoring to better inform recovery plans for threatened species like the Mexican spotted owl. However, we know from research on a related species, the California spotted owl, that the same large, hot wildfires that threaten human society can also reduce habitat for these old-forest species.
A Mexican spotted owl preferentially nests in large trees that occur in forests with complex structure. Research on the California spotted owl found that the cover of large, old trees best predicted habitat. These two owls, which are related, have similar habitat requirements that are the type of forest conditions that occur when we restore frequent fire.