Monday, March 07, 2005

A Conundrum of Sorts

Senator Pete Domenici wants the federal government to hold off on protecting the Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) living near the Rio Grande, but not for the nature-hating reasons you might expect. According to this story from The Albuquerque Tribune, the New Mexico Senator is actually worried that protecting the bird's habitat will stymie efforts to remove invasive plants along the Rio Grande. Part of the problem is that the flycatcher, a federally listed endangered species, sometimes makes its nest in invasive "baddies" like Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) and salt cedar (Tamarix spp.). The Senator is hoping U.S. Fish & Wildlife will instead focus resources on increasing flycatcher populations through breeding, giving New Mexico a chance to deal with the invading trees and shrubs.

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