WDFW seeks comment on status review for northern spotted owl

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public input on a draft periodic status review for northern spotted owl that includes a recommendation to keep the owl on the state’s endangered species list. 

The public comment period is open through Oct. 29.

“Despite management and conservation actions that have reduced the rate of northern spotted owl habitat loss, the Washington sub-population of spotted owls is still facing challenges that threaten population recovery, including competition by non-native barred owls,” said Taylor Cotten, WDFW conservation assessment section manager. “Since the species’ state listing, the likelihood of northern spotted owls becoming extinct in Washington has only increased.”

The draft periodic status review for northern spotted owl is now available on WDFW’s website. 

The public can submit written comments on the document via email ([email protected]) or by postal mail to Taylor Cotten, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.

“Following the public comment period, we will brief the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on the periodic status review and recommendation,” said Cotten. 

The Commission is tentatively scheduled to consider this topic in November 2023.


The northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) averages 17 inches in length with white spotting across their brown bodies. They can be distinguished from barred owls by the latter’s dark vertical barring on their light-colored breast. The northern spotted owl is now rare throughout Washington, with populations continuing to decline. About 1,200 territories have been documented in Washington and trend data suggests that fewer than 25 percent of these territories remain occupied.

WDFW regularly analyzes and reviews information to inform status and classification recommendations for species listed as endangered, threatened, or sensitive in Washington. If a species is listed, WDFW prepares recovery or management plans to guide conservation efforts. More information is available on WDFW’s At-Risk Species webpage.