National Wildlife Refuge System

Bringing Back the Wood Stork



June 26, 2014 - Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is down-listing the wood stork from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), reflecting a highly successful conservation and recovery effort spanning three decades. Jewell made the announcement at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, home to the largest wood stork rookery in Georgia.

 

Wood Stork
Harris Neck Refuge, GA, has the largest wood stork rookery in Georgia.
Credit: USFWS

“The down-listing of the wood stork from endangered to threatened demonstrates how the Endangered Species Act can be an effective tool to protect and recover imperiled wildlife from the brink of extinction, especially when we work in partnership with states, tribes, conservation groups, private landowners, and other stakeholders to restore vital habitat,” Secretary Jewell said. “From the Cypress swamps of Georgia, to the inland waterways of Florida, wetlands and their wildlife are emblematic of the American Southeast.”

 

Wood Stork
"The down-listing of the wood stork from endangered to threatened demonstrates how the Endangered Species Act can be an effective tool to protect and recover imperiled wildlife from the brink of extinction," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
Credit: Steve Hillebrand

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe noted that “Reclassification of the wood stork to threatened status does not diminish protection measures for the bird under the ESA, and we will continue to work with our partners to fully recover the bird, including with our counterparts in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, and great organizations like Ducks Unlimited and the Corps of Engineers.” 

 

When wood storks were listed as endangered in 1984, their population was dropping a precipitous 5 percent a year. Since then, the U.S. breeding population has shown substantial improvement in the numbers of nesting pairs as a whole and an expansion of its breeding range. 

Wood Stork
The U.S. breeding population of wood storks has shown substantial improvement in the numbers of nesting pairs as a whole and an expansion of its breeding range.
Credit: USFWS

Since 2004, the three-year averages (2003 to 2012) for nesting pairs ranged from 7,086 to 10,147, all above the 6,000 three-year average identified in the 1997 recovery plan as the threshold to consider reclassifying the species to threatened status.

 

News Release

 

More about Wood Storks at Harris Neck Refuge, GA

Last updated: June 27, 2014