Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Two Black-backed Woodpecker Populations to be Considered for Federal Protection

Apr 08, 2013

April 8, 2013


Media Contacts: 

California:                       Sarah Swenty, 916/414-6571,
South Dakota/Wyoming:   Leith Edgar,   303/236-4588,
Oregon:                          Joan Jewett, 503/807-4886,

Two Black-backed Woodpecker Populations to be Considered for Federal Protection
Service opens a 60-day comment period to gather more information

SACRAMENTO - Two populations of the black-backed woodpecker may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined. This decision was made following a review of a petition seeking to protect the species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service will conduct a comprehensive status review of the populations petitioned when funding becomes available.  We are requesting that information regarding these populations be submitted on or before June 10, 2013.

This decision, known as a 90-day finding, considers only information presented by the petitioner and information in Service files at the time the petition was received.  Based on that information, the Service believes that listing the Oregon Cascades-California and Black Hills populations of the black-backed woodpecker as distinct population segments or subspecies may be warranted.  Some of the primary threats to the populations that were included in the petition include post-disturbance salvage logging, active fire suppression that limits the acreage and severity of fires each year, and forest thinning programs. 

This finding does not mean the Service has decided to give the black-backed woodpecker federal protection under the ESA at this time. Rather, it is the first step in a longer process that triggers a more thorough review of the species.  In this review, the Service is seeking the best scientific and commercial information available and is asking the public for scientific and commercial data and other information regarding the two populations of the black-backed woodpecker and their habitat.

Anyone wishing to submit information regarding the populations of the black-backed woodpecker under consideration for listing may do so in one of the following two ways: 

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal:  Search docket FWS-R8-ES-2013-0034 and follow instructions for submitting comments.
  • U.S. mail or hand-delivery:  Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2013-0034 Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.  

Please submit information by June 10, 2013.  The Service will post all information received on  This generally means posting any personal information included in the submission.

The black-backed woodpecker is similar in size to the more common American robin and is heavily barred with black and white sides.  Males and young have a yellow crown patch, while the female crown is entirely black.  Its sooty-black dorsal plumage camouflages it against the black, charred bark of the burned trees where it feeds on wood-boring insect larvae.  Different from other woodpeckers, the black-backed woodpecker has only three toes on each foot instead of the usual four.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. This landmark conservation law has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation and promoted the recovery of many others.

For more information about the black-backed woodpecker petition and this finding, please visit

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