Was The IBWO Better Off As A Ghost?
(Note: IBWO=Ivory-billed Woodpecker)
Scott Weidensaul doesn't think so. But as he says, we should give everyone a chance to show their true colors with regards to this magnificent bird.
Having had a chance [to] accompany the research crew from the Nature Conservancy and Cornell in the field this winter, I cannot imagine anything less likely than them wantonly disturbing this bird -- after 14 months of incredible effort, they were barely able to find it. Birders who think this is going to be an easy tick on their lifelists are in for a rude awakening when they discover how big and challenging the Big Woods of Arkansas are to simply get around.
And as for agencies making "only token efforts to manage and protect them," shouldn't we give them more than a week to prove themselves? One result of the past year's secrecy has been a great deal of thought and planning for how to best protect the bird while engaging local communities. What's more, the efforts of TNC [The Nature Conservancy], Ducks Unlimited, USFWS [US Fish and Wildlife Service], the state of Arkansas and other partners over the past 20 years, before anyone knew the ivorybill still existed, preserved an enormous chunk of this bottomland ecosystem (120,000 acres by TNC alone). In just the past year, they raised more than $10 million for land acquisition in the Big Woods.
I am convinced the ivorybill is better off now than when it was a ghost; it'll be interesting, for example, to see what effect this discovery has on the battle against channelization of the Cache and White rivers by the Army Corps of Engineers -- one agency whose commitment to the ivorybill I would question.
Schuylkill Haven, Pa.
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