In 1993 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Mexican spotted owl (MSO) was declared an endangered species. However, the road towards implementation of appropriate measures to protect the threatened MSO has taken relatively too long despite having started over two decades ago. A recovery plan was proposed and signed in 1995 and it was incorporated by LRMPs in 1995. It was until 2012 when MSO’s reviewed recovery plan was completed. Currently, stakeholders are looking for suitable planning and implementing management experiments that can be used to recover and protect MSO.
The recovery plan made a recommendation to monitor the population of MSO by estimating site occupancy rate. Therefore a monitoring protocol for the site occupancy of MSO had to be developed.
The five main recommendations of the MSO recovery plan are as follows:
Protection of existing population: this entails finding the most suitable and sustainable methods of protecting existing population of MSO. Engineers can use modern technologies to develop the most efficient and effective protection methods
Future habitat management: this involves developing practices that will facilitate proper management of future habits. This being a recovery plan, the aim should be to recapture and enhance existence of MSO.
Threat management: this involves looking for ways on how to ensure that possible threats to the life of MSO are eliminated.
Population and habitat monitoring: it is also important to constantly monitor MSO population and habitat so as to know the efficiency and effectiveness of recovery measures that have been put in place.
Creating partnerships to promote the recovery efforts: since the recovery requires a lot of resources and collaboration, it is important to build partnerships with several stakeholders. This will increase the likelihood of succeeding in the recovery efforts
Status of Knowledge
There is no comprehensive data and information about the actual situation of MSO. Nevertheless, general information shows that MSO population has drastically reduced due to various reasons such as change in habitat. This means that participants in the recovery efforts have the responsibility of using scientific methods to find essential and specific information that will help in implementation of the MSO recovery plan.
The main target of the management experiments is to investigate MSO population trend and habitat. These experiments should involve: identifying a sampling frame; selecting sampling units; and selecting a sample to be thoroughly monitored. The experiments should be focused on evaluating various factors affecting MSO population and habitats; should promote coordination from different stakeholders; should be rigorous; should focus on specific landscape subsets; and should occur on specific protected activity centers (PACs).
It is not easy to identify a sample frame that will provide adequate and accurate information about the most appropriate MSO habitat
Selecting the most suitable season during which to carry out the management experiments may also be quite challenging
This process requires a lot of resources and therefore getting sufficient funds is not easy
It is likely to take a lot of time for any reliable data to be gathered
It may not be easy to implement some recovery plan recommendations considering the big changes that have already taken place in MSO habits, such as high-severity wildfires
It is easy to lose a species or subspecies if there are no proper regulatory mechanisms to protect the species
It is recommended to identify early signs of deteriorating species or any other problem and take quick measures to reverse the situation
Engineers have the biggest responsibility of performing studies to collect and store data about natural habitat