As inconclusive but tantalizing evidence has mounted that the elusive ivory billed woodpecker still lives in the southeastern swamps, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed its first-ever recovery plan for the endangered species. It was listed as endangered 40 years ago, and was even then widely believed to be extinct.
That changed when a Cornell University team published an account of seeing the bird in 2004 -- prompting an aggressive annual search for evidence that the bird still lives. The plan calls for $27 million, primarily to continue looking for the bird and to understand where and how it lives so that appropriate conservation efforts can be planned.
No conclusive evidence has emerged that the bird exists, but a growing number of anecdotal sightings by experienced birders have provided enough evidence that the effort is worthwhile, according to the recovery plan. The dearth of information about the bird, however, prevents the production of a more detailed recovery plan, the likes of which are produced for other endangered species:
"At present, the limited knowledge on the population abundance, distribution, habitat requirements, and biology of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker prevents development of more specific recovery criteria."
The plan calls for these six general steps:
"The opportunity to recover this icon of the ornithological world cannot and should not be passed over," Sam Hamilton, regional director for the Fish And Wildlife Service''s Southeast Region and leader of the recovery team, said in a statement released to the press.
"Given the evidence pointing to its survival, we believe it would be irresponsible not to act. That''s why we established this recovery team with some of the nation''s best biologists to help us chart a reasonable, well founded path to save this species." The public can comment on the plan until Oct. 22.
To get more details or find out how to comment, click here.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.