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A woodpecker perched on a tree with a bug in its mouth
Information icon A red-cockaded woodpecker has dinner outside its nesting cavity. Photo by USFWS.

Service announces public hearing on proposed downlisting of red-cockaded woodpecker

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a public hearing on the proposed downlisting of the red-cockaded woodpecker. The virtual public hearing will be held on December 1, 2020 via Zoom and teleconference, in accordance with COVID-19 pandemic public gathering rules. Virtual meetings are also consistent with Service regulations at 50 CFR 424.16©(3).

“The Service is committed to transparency in all of our science-based decisions and to the input of stakeholders and the public,” said Service Regional Director Leo Miranda. “The public hearing will provide stakeholders and the public with an additional avenue of engagement in the proposed downlisting of the red-cockaded woodpecker and help ensure that we are using the best science and information in our final rule.”

On September 25, 2020, the Service proposed downlisting the red-cockaded woodpecker from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), along with a proposed 4(d) rule. The proposal follows decades of conservation partnerships on behalf of the woodpecker, which saw its populations and numbers increase across its range.

The proposed rule published on October 8, 2020, opening up a 60-day public comment period that will end on December 7, 2020. The public hearing on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 will be held from 6-9 p.m. Eastern Time.

Registration will be required to join the public hearing, via Zoom or teleconference, and to provide oral arguments. For information on how to register, or if you encounter problems joining Zoom the day of the meeting, visit the following website for detailed information:

https://www.fws.gov/southeast/wildlife/birds/red-cockaded-woodpecker/#recovery-plan-section

The public hearing will provide interested parties an opportunity to present formal, oral comments regarding the proposed rule. Comments previously submitted on this proposed downlisting will be fully considered and do not need to be resubmitted.

While the public informational meeting will be an opportunity for dialogue with the Service, the public hearing is not; it is a forum for accepting formal verbal testimony. The time allotted for individual oral statements may be limited. Therefore, anyone wishing to make an oral statement at the public hearing for the record is encouraged to provide a prepared written copy of their statement to us through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or U.S. mail. There are no limits on the length of written comments submitted.

Instructions on submitting comments and supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule are available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket No. FWS–R4–ES–2019–0018.

Background

When the red-cockaded woodpecker was listed as endangered under Endangered Species Conservation Act (precursor to the ESA) in 1969, there were estimated to be fewer than 4,000 clusters (groups of cavity trees used by one or more woodpeckers) of the birds. Today, the Service estimates that there are nearly 7,800 clusters ranging across 11 states from southern Virginia to eastern Texas.

The Service’s proposal to reclassify the red-cockaded woodpecker is based on a peer-reviewed species status assessment (SSA), a scientifically rigorous review of a species’ current and projected status. The SSA was published at the time of the proposed downlisting.

For additional information on the Service’s proposal to reclassify the red-cockaded woodpecker, please visit our FAQs.

Contacts

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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Looking for a media contact? Reach out to a regional spokesperson.

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