USFWS to reconsider ivory-billed woodpecker extinction status

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reopened the public comment period on its September proposal to remove the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act due to the species’ extinction.

That proposal, released Sept. 29, called for removing a total 23 species from protections of the ESA—11 bird species, eight species of mussels, a bat, two fish species and a plant—since the species were determined to be extinct. The USFWS accepted public comments on that proposal until Nov. 29. During that comment period, the USFWS received a request to provide additional opportunities for the public to offer feedback about the ivory-billed woodpecker. In response, the agency is allowing public comments on that species for an additional 30 days. The agency will also hold a public hearing later this month, to allow the public an additional venue to provide feedback on the delisting proposal.

The ivory-billed woodpecker once ranged across several states in the southeastern United States. While the last confirmed sighting was in 1944, multiple alleged sightings were reported in Arkansas beginning in 2004. A short video of what sounded like the species’ characteristic knocking sounds was also captured in 2005. Subsequent extensive searches by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and partners between 2006 and 2010 covered 523,000 acres in eight states but yielded no definitive evidence of a surviving ivory-billed woodpecker.

The online hearing will be held on Zoom on Jan. 26, 2022 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. ET. Registration is required. Written comments will also be accepted until Feb. 10. Additional comments are only being accepted regarding the ivory-billed woodpecker, not on any of the other 22 species proposed for delisting in September.

Read The Wildlife Society’s standing position on threatened and endangered species and position statement on the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Header Image: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting additional public input on the delisting of the ivory-billed woodpecker. Credit: Ryan Mandelbaum