The ivory-billed woodpecker gets a 6-month reprieve from the US extinction list

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The ivory-billed woodpecker, which was feared extinct for 60 years, has been sighted in a remote part of Arkansas, ornithologists said April 28, 2005. REUTERS

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July 11 (Reuters) – The ivory-billed woodpecker, a bird few or no live bird watchers have ever seen, was given a six-month reprieve before being placed on the U.S. government’s extinct species list , although the last confirmed sighting was nearly eight decades ago.

Last year, the US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the bird – the largest known American woodpecker – as extinct, removing it from the critically endangered species list.

The declaration would mean that the animal no longer has any legal protection it had as an endangered species.

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The move sparked an uproar among birdwatchers who asked the agency to wait, saying the bird – known for its distinctive beak and 2.5ft (76cm) wingspan – could still live deep in the ocean. the swamps and hardwood forests of the southern United States. .

As a result, the Fish & Wildlife Service relented even though the bird has been functionally extinct for decades, Ian Fischer, a spokesman for the agency, said Monday.

“There’s a lot of passion, enthusiasm for this bird,” Fischer said. “He’s nicknamed the ‘Lord God Bird’ because he’s so big. But unfortunately there’s no clear evidence he’s alive.”

Logging of old-growth forests in the southern United States has destroyed much of its habitat. Its last confirmed sighting was documented in 1944 in northeast Louisiana, the service said. Read more

The agency needs to see new photos or videos that are clear enough to be authenticated by experts, he said. Many birdwatchers confuse the animal with the Pileated Woodpecker, another large bird.

The ivory-billed woodpecker was added to a list of 23 species proposed for the extinct category in September 2021. The list includes a fruit bat, 11 birds, eight freshwater mussels and two types of fish, the report said. ‘agency.

A 30-day comment period was reopened July 7 for birders to submit clear photos or videos of the ivory-billed woodpecker. A final decision will be made by the agency published in March instead of September.

“He’s a beautiful bird, and nobody wants him to go extinct,” Fischer said. “But we need proof.”

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Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Sandra Maler

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