Original story at: AP
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Timber Companies Threaten to Sue Feds (over spotted owl)
By Associated Press
March 2, 2002, 6:22 AM EST

SEATTLE -- A coalition of timber companies is threatening to sue the federal government if it doesn't review the protected status of the northern spotted owl, whose classification under the Endangered Species Act has halted logging on millions of acres of public land.

In a petition filed with Interior Secretary Gale Norton, the American Forest Resource Council accused the government of failing to comply with the act's requirement to review the status of threatened species every five years, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Friday.

The coalition also argues that new evidence shows the birds are not in as much trouble as they were thought to be when they earned protection under the law in the early 1990s.

The petition is similar to one the group filed in January over the marbled murrelet, a type of sea bird.

" The information we have about both these species is a lot different from when they were listed, " said Chris West, vice president of the Forest Resource Council.

Joan Jewett, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said both species have been studied thoroughly and both still need help.

Norton must respond to the petitions within 60 days of receiving them. If she does not, or if the timber group is not satisfied with her response, it would be legally empowered to file suit against the government.

Copyright 2002, The Associated Press