There's a new member of the growing endangered species list in California. Officials from the Fish and Game Commission of California on Friday has unanimously voted to list the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis) under the California Endangered Species Act.

According to a report from the OC Register, the northern spotted owl has sufferefd from a continous population decline over the years, with an annual rate of 3.8 percent. This has increased since 2011 when its decline rate was at 2.8 percent.

The northern spotted owl has been labeled as a threatened species since 1990. One of the main reasons of their decline is habitat loss as this species live in virgin forests and has been exposed to severe exploitation.

Mid Day Daily says this move from wildlife officials serves as a precautionary measure to further protect the species as well as raise awareness regarding the need to further protection.

“The listing of the northern spotted owl is one small step towards recovery. The owl was here long before us. It is our moral obligation to ensure that the owl will continue to roam our forests long after we are gone," Tom Wheeler of the Environmental Protection Information Center’s (EPIC) said in a statement.

A subspecies of spotted owls, the northern spotted owl could grow as long as 20 inches and are nocturnal birds that eat rodents, reptiles and small birds. One thing that makes this species interesting is its distinct black eyes that are rare among owl species as most have red or yellow eyes.

Quartz notes that in order for a species to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, the process is crucial and could take years. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has to initiate the call for protection or if the petition for protection is filed by another group or organization, it should be proven that the call for protection is justifiable.

A recent study published in the journal Biological Conversation even reveals that some endangered species wait for an average of 12 years to be considered as an endangered species due to government delays such as limited funds, lack of environmentally concerned politicians, and the U.S. president's decision, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.