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Red-cockaded woodpecker moves from endangered to threatened

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This news and analysis are provided by the Ornithological Council, a consortium supported by 10 ornithological societies. Join or renew your membership in your ornithological society if you value the services these societies provide to you, including OrnithologyExchange and the Ornithological Council.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that they are downlisting red-cockaded woodpeckers from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The agency cited partnerships with both the Department of Defense and the U.S. Forest Service, along with more than 30 other public and private organizations, as being key to the recovery. 

First listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969, the precursor to the ESA, after a century of habitat loss reduced the bird’s range to only a few states, red-cockaded woodpeckers now range across 11 states.  Estimates from the late 1970s found 1,470 breeding clusters, or groups of cavity trees used by a group of woodpeckers for nesting and roosting. That number has risen to 7,800 clusters in recent years. 

The USFWS is also considering adopting a rule that will prohibit incidental take of red-cockaded woodpeckers from actions that would result in the further habitat loss or degradation, such as activities that would harass red-cockaded woodpeckers during the breeding season and the insecticide use near clusters.  

The agency will be accepting comments on the proposal for 60 days, once the announcement is published in the Federal Register. 

Read more in the USFWS’s press release

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