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The Associated Press July 30, 2010, 2:19PM ET

Logging suspended after spotted owls move closer

The U.S. Forest Service has suspended logging an experimental timber sale on the Willamette National Forest after finding a pair of northern spotted owls moved closer to the area.

Forest spokeswoman Judith McHugh said Friday that they will wait to hear from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists how to proceed in light of the owls' threatened species status.

The Trapper timber sale was bought by Seneca Jones Timber Co. of Eugene and logging was to begin on Monday.

The project is part of an experiment into ways logging can be used to mimic the forest structures favored by owls that are created by fire.

Spotted owl numbers have been declining across the Northwest since it was declared a threatened species 20 years ago.

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