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No Changes Planned for Public Access at White River National Wildlife Refuge
Sound recordings suggest presence of Ivory-billed Woodpecker

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2005

Contacts: Jeff Fleming, 404/679-7287


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said today it plans no changes at this time to public use management at the White River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Arkansas.

This announcement comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that three scientists are withdrawing a paper expressing doubt about evidence of the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Their decision to withdraw the paper is based on a sampling of sound recordings taken from White River in January, 2005 that strongly suggest the presence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers there.

These recordings are part of 17,000 hours of audio taken over the past 18 months at dozens of locations throughout the Cache and White River ecosystem. Fi ndings from Cornell’s research will be presented at the American Ornithologists’ Union meeting later this month in Santa Barbara, California. While Cornell’s scientists and others are excited about the initial results, only 20% of the recordings have been analyzed. Indeed, Cornell scientists emphasize that they cannot be 100% certain that the sounds were made by an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The Service will continue to monitor the research activities in the area.

In April, the Department of the Interior, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Nature Conservancy, and other partners announced the extraordinary rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge.

Members of two working groups of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Recovery Team are meeting today and tomorrow in Little Rock to begin developing the bird’s recovery plan.

White River National Wildlife Refuge consists of more than 160,000 acres of bottomland hardwood f orest in southeastern Arkansas. It adjoins Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, where there have been multiple sightings of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. White River National Wildlife Refuge has active hunting, fishing, and environmental education programs, and maintains a visitor center opened in 2003 in St. Charles, Arkansas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 fish and wildlife management offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird population s, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.


For more information about the recovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, visit http://www.fws.gov/ivorybill.

 


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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