Environmentalists say they plan to sue to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Northern goshawk as an endangered species, an action that could restrict logging throughout the West.
The Fish and Wildlife Service decided Tuesday against such a listing.
"Based on the best available data provided to our scientists, we found no conclusive evidence of a declining population trend for the goshawk in the forested West," said FWS Director Jamie Rappaport Clark, a biologist who took over the agency last year.
She said new Forest Service guidelines prevent logging that eliminates goshawk habitat. She also said her agency's review found nearly 3,200 goshawk territories in 11 Western states.
But environmentalists who have fought a seven-year battle to have the goshawk declared endangered, say scores of studies show goshawk populations plunging as timber companies cut more large older trees.
"Goshawks depend on old-growth forests. If you cut them down, the species will become extinct," said Kieran Suckling of the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity, one of 10 environmental groups that petitioned the agency for the endangered listing in 1991.
Suckling said his Tucson-based group sent the agency a notice Tuesday saying the group planned to sue the agency within 60 days.
The decision against listing the bird as endangered leaves intact current federal protections for the goshawk, which range from none in some national forests to restrictions on timber-cutting and other activities in nesting areas in the Southwest.
Northern goshawks are birds of prey about the size of ravens, building their nests in Ponderosa pines and other large, older trees. They hunt small birds and rodents, and their short wings and long tails make them more quick and maneuverable than most hawks and eagles.
Because it is such a good hunter and less picky about its prey, the goshawk can live in a wider range of habitat than the northern spotted owl, experts say. Putting the spotted owl and other species on the endangered list earlier this decade cut logging by up to 80 percent in northwestern national forests.
Written by Matt Kelley
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