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Question:
Is the Ruby Throated Hummingbird on the endangered species list? How can we find out what is on the endangered species list? How are things added and removed from the list? Also, what is the story on the Spotted Owl issue in Washington and Oregon?



Replies:
I do not know about the hummingbird, but you could call or write to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the Environmental Protection Agency to obtain the endangered species list. With respect to the Spotted Owl issue, I think it is important to recognize that more than the Spotted Owl species is at stake. The Spotted Owl is what ecologists call an "indicator species" or an "umbrella species": since this species occupies a niche that fairly high-up in the food chain, it is a good measure of what is happening to all the species below it in the whole ecosystem.

When biologists say "the Spotted Owl is threatened" they mean the whole ecosystem that makes up the Spotted Owl's habitat is threatened. Since the law does not recognize "endangered ecosystems" but only recognizes "endangered species," a single species must be demonstratably threatened in order to take legal action to preserve it.

Don Libby



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