By JEFF BARNARD

Associated Press

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) -- Federal biologists are designing an experiment to see if northern spotted owls will be helped by killing barred owls that have invaded their territory in the old growth forests of the Northwest.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that it is doing an environmental analysis laying out the rules for the experiment.

The spotted owl went from a seldom-seen denizen of old growth forests to the cover of Time magazine in the 1990s as environmentalists forced the federal government to cut back logging on Northwest national forests to protect its habitat.

Despite the logging cutbacks, spotted owls continue to decline, most steeply where the population of more aggressive barred owls -- native to eastern North America -- is highest.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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