Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday challenging the agency’s decision to deny endangered species protection to California Spotted Owls.

The lawsuit—filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Forest Legacy and Defenders of Wildlife—is the latest in a 20-year fight over the status of the subspecies of spotted owls, which live in old-growth forest in the Sierra Nevada and the mountains of coastal and Southern California. The Center For Biological Diversity and the Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign filed their first petition to list the owl in 2000.

“We've been working to get the California Spotted Owl listed 20 years now and during that whole time, population studies have shown them to be declining and threats have only increased,” Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity told Agri-Pulse. “This is a species that is very much in peril and needs protection.”

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The three groups claim that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to deny protection in November of 2019 was “unlawful and not supported by the Service’s own scientific assessment.” In the lawsuit, the groups state that the assessment found a 44% population decline in the Lassen region of the owl’s Sierra Nevada range, a 50% decline in the Eldorado region, a 31% in the Sierra region and a 9% decline in the San Bernardino region.

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