U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Southeast Region News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   Vicki M. Boatwright or

April 4, 1996                                Diana M. Hawkins,  404-679-7289


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input on the revision of a plan to bring about the recovery of the wood stork, a species listed as endangered on February 28, 1984, said Southeast Regional Director Noreen Clough. The wood stork is the only species of stork native to North America, she noted.

Wood storks are large, white, long-legged, wading birds that use a variety of freshwater and estuarine wetlands for nesting, feeding, and roosting. Wood storks stand about 3 feet tall and have a dark, unfeathered head, large bill and black wing-tips. They are found throughout Florida, Georgia, and coastal South Carolina. They feed primarily on small fish that are concentrated in shallow wetlands. Wood storks were listed as endangered because of their loss of feeding habitat, human disturbance and artificial changes in water levels that have affected the natural drainage patterns of Florida.

The Service approved the original recovery plan for this species September 9, 1986. Significant changes in distribution and new information on wood stork biology have, however, necessitated a revision of the original plan. This revised recovery plan is expected to assure the long-term viability of the U.S. breeding population of the wood stork in the wild, allowing eventually for reclassification to threatened status and later for the bird's removal from the list of threatened and endangered species.

Major goals of the recovery objective are to protect currently occupied habitat, restore and enhance existing habitat, conduct applied research and increase public awareness. Once completed, this plan will guide the actions of all Federal and State agencies whose actions affect the conservation of the wood stork.

Clough noted that it is important for the Service to know what the public thinks about its approach to recovering this species. The Service will collect written public comments on this recovery plan up to May 24, 1996, when the comment period closes, she said. Copies of the proposed plan can be obtained from the Service by writing to Acting Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 6620 Southpoint Drive, South, Suite 310, Jacksonville, Florida, 32216 or calling (904)232-2580.

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1996 News Releases

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