Searchers take to the air in hunt for Ivory-billed Woodpecker
BRINKLEY – It has been almost three years since the announcement that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker had been rediscovered on the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe County. Searchers have seen the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker and were able to film a short, grainy video of the woodpecker, but they have not been able to produce a high quality image of the elusive bird. Searchers hope to change all that this winter during a 10-day helicopter photo survey of the area.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing a helicopter that will carry biologists over several areas surrounding the Cache and White rivers where sightings have been reported. The aerial search will begin on Jan. 28, the day after Arkansas’s waterfowl season is complete. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will be involved in the search as a part of a coordinated effort involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the U.S. Forest Service, and others.
Over the years, searchers have invested thousands of hours of intensive exploration using a variety of techniques to look for the endangered bird. Using boats, walking, blinds, cameras, and sound recording units, searchers were able to cover about 13 percent of the forested habitat in the Arkansas Big Woods and produced several additional possible sightings. Intriguing sound recordings also have been documented, but additional photographic evidence is needed and aerial surveys may also provide additional information on high priority ground search areas.
The helicopter searches will take place mostly over forested public lands on the Rex Hancock Black Swamp Wildlife Management Area, Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area, and White River National Wildlife Refuge. The searches also will extend onto one private tract at the request of the landowner.
For additional information about Ivory-billed Woodpecker recovery, please contact Laurie Fenwood at (404)679-4016.
For additional information about the helicopter search, please contact Matt Conner at (870)282-8249.