Red-cockaded Woodpecker Recovery
Conserving the Nature of America

RCW Genetic Sampling

Dear Biologists, Researchers, and Consultants:

In the early to mid-1990s, Dr. Sue Haig conducted much of our first work on the genetics of red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCW). At that time she was a researcher and professor at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (now USGS) South Carolina Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit, at Clemson, University. Today, Sue is located at the USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Corvallis, Oregon. Sue is again interested in studying RCW genetics throughout their range, especially in light of some new methods of analyses. Many of you know Sue and I know will enjoy assisting her, and RCW recovery, by participating in this project. All individuals/agencies covered under 10(a)(1)(A) management, conservation, recovery, and research permits will participate in one or both of the following ways.

First, those of you currently storing (regardless of when you collected the bird) dead RCWs (or their parts) are now required to contact Sue to arrange shipment of appropriate tissue samples (see links below). Your authorization to hold RCWs, or their parts, (except under prior arrangements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for educational reasons) expires with the placing of this information on this website. Therefore, it is critical that you now contact Sue and arrange for shipment of appropriate tissue to her. Any remaining portions of any carcass in your possession that Sue does not need are to be disposed of in the woods (or other appropriate forest setting) where they were collected.

Second, I am requesting that, from this point forward, each of you supply Sue with appropriate tissue from RCWs that you find dead, or that die as a result of your research or management activities (which fortunately are few and far between). Additionally, some of you who are (or could be) authorized to collect inviable eggs, via your 10(A)(1)(a) permits, can supply embryos from those eggs to Sue.

The process for shipping RCWs to Sue is two-fold. First, click on the "Shipping Information" link below, read it, and then contact Sue about particulars. Second, click on the “Letter of Disposition” link below and print a copy for each RCW sample to be mailed. Fill it out (in part, based on your conversation with Sue), mail the original to Sue with the specimen and mail a copy to me.

If you have any questions regarding administrative aspects of this project, disposition of birds (or their parts), your permit, etc. contact Will McDearman, RCW Recovery Coodinator, at (601) 321-1124 or Questions regarding Sue’s research, shipping samples, appropriate sample types, etc. should be directed to Sue at or (541) 750-7482. I appreciate your assistance on this important project and thank you in advance for your cooperation.

RCW Recovery and Longleaf Pine Coordinator

Letter of Disposition - PDF

Shipping Information - PDF

Last Updated: March 9, 2020