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Two-for-One Deal for Scrub-Jay Habitat Offered

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to allow a fertilizer company to clear 100 acres of land occupied by four families of the threatened Florida scrub-jay, in exchange for a 200 acre conservation easement for the scrub-jay in the same area.

Mosaic Fertilizer of Florida wants to clear the land to begin a phosphate mining operation. Mosaic is the world's largest producer and marketer of phosphate and potash fertilizers. On its Web site Mosaic claims that it rehabilitates land it has mined by removing invasive species, and that it has earned recognition from the Florida Native Plant Society and the Corporate Conservation Council of the National Audubon Society for its reclamation efforts.

The Florida scrub-jay is endemic to Florida and is known for its tameness. It will take food from human hands. The scrub-jay was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1987. The principal threat to the species is suppression of wildfire which is necessary for the germination of plants on which the scrub-jay feeds.

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