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Preservation of California Gnatcatcher

After reading the editorial (“The Tightening Net Around Developers,” Jan. 18) and several other recent articles concerning gnatcatchers, I would like to offer several comments.

It is not likely that the controversy over whether the California gnatcatcher is a subspecies of the Mexican gnatcatcher has anything to do with the preservation of either species. My feeling is that the controversy centers more on limiting urban and suburban growth.

Anyone who is familiar with the California gnatcatcher knows that the gnatcatcher does very well, thank you, in developed areas if an abundance of swimming pools or other small bodies of fresh water are provided.

For many years, we have enjoyed watching our local resident family of gnatcatchers meticulously plucking ample numbers of gnats, moths and other insects from our pool each morning.

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The only observed threat to these industrious creatures seems to be from the ever-increasing numbers of large crows that raid their nests to steal their young. The relatively delicate gnatcatcher and several other native birds are virtually defenseless against these large predators.

I would like to suggest that if preservation of the California gnatcatcher is truly the issue, then the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy should strive to reach a compromise with the developers to provide a specified number of artificial fresh water ponds within each development.

It is very likely that the ponds would benefit other species as well and would also help to protect the gnatcatcher and other wildlife against future drought periods.

Rather than concentrating on limiting growth, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy may also wish to consider directing their efforts toward controlling the increasing numbers of large crows, starlings and other species that are systematically decimating the native species, including our gnatcatchers.

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TED M. DONIGUIAN

Laguna Beach


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