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Knoxville – The cerulean warbler, a migratory songbird being studied by University of Tennessee researchers, may be added to the nation-s list of threatened species.

An associate professor of forestry, wildlife and fisheries at UT said environmentalists are using the university-s data to make their case.

“There is a coalition of environmental groups from the Southeast that have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list this species for protection under the Endangered Species Act,” said Dr. David Buehler. “The groups want the bird listed as `threatened,- which means it-s in danger of being endangered.”

Buehler said the groups are using data collected for five years to bolster their argument that the bird is threatened.

If the Fish and Wildlife Service classifies the bird as threatened, it will have to create a plan to help the bird recover its numbers, Buehler said.

Cerulean warblers spend their summers in forested areas of East Tennessee, and fly to the Andean forests of South America for the winter. Buehler said fewer birds are seen in the wild each year.

“The warbler has been declining fairly significantly over the last 35 years, so there-s been a lot of interest in why this bird is declining,” said Buehler. “We got involved working with this species because the Cumberland Mountains happen to be near the center of its range.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service has a year to make its decision.