Cactus Owls in the News

It’s been a few years since the fight over protecting the Cactus Owls has made its way to court, but a new court battle over protections is coming.

Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday aimed at forcing the federal government to protect Arizona’s diminishing cactus ferruginous pygmy owl population under the Endangered Species Act.

The Sonoran Desert of southern and eastern Arizona is home to about 50 of the owls. While Arizona’s population is one of two small populations in the United States, there are significant populations of pygmy owls in Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa.

The lawsuit filed by Defenders of Wildlife and the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the owl as endangered….

Pygmy owls were once more common in Arizona, but urban sprawl from Phoenix and Tucson in the 1970s and ’80s has eliminated much of their habitat, according to Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

A change to the Endangered Species Act in 1997 defined the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl as a “distinct population segment” that could be protected under the Act.

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