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Feds delay Ivory-bill decision for six months

Ivory-billed Woodpecker
In this colorized version of a black-and-white photo taken in 1935 in Louisiana, a male Ivory-billed Woodpecker perches outside a nest hole. Original photo by Arthur A. Allen; watercolored by Jerry A. Payne/USDA-ARS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that it will give itself six more months to decide whether to delist the Ivory-billed Woodpecker “due to extinction.”

The agency is also reopening the public-comment period on the proposed delisting rule for 30 days. The public-comment period begins today, July 7. All comments must be received before midnight on August 8.

Last September, the agency published a proposed rule to remove 23 species from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants due to extinction.

The woodpecker was on the list and drove most of the media coverage of the proposal. Unfortunately, many of the stories claimed that the agency had already decided that the bird is extinct, giving the public the impression that the bird is gone for good.

A few days after the proposed rule was announced, we published a story in which several long-time Ivory-bill searchers said delisting the bird would be “absurd” and “really premature.”


After the September proposal, the agency opened a 60-day public-comment period, and on January 26, 2022, at the request of advocates with Mission Ivorybill, it held an online public hearing in which most participants argued against delisting the bird. Another 30-day public-comment period was opened after the hearing.

“Recognizing substantial disagreement among experts regarding the status of the species, the Service is extending the deadline to allow for additional time to review information,” the agency announced in a press release about the six-month extension. 

An announcement in today’s Federal Register adds: “This situation has led to a significant disagreement regarding whether the species is extinct. Therefore, in consideration of the disagreements among experts surrounding the Ivory-billed Woodpecker’s status, we are extending the final determination on the proposal to delist the species for 6 months in order to solicit additional information that will help to clarify these issues.”


“The Service is seeking new information during the 30-day reopening, including clear video or photographic evidence of the presence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker that can be repeatedly interpreted the same way by independent observers, such as definitive photographic evidence collected by a field observer,” the agency said. “Comments provided during the initial proposal and the previous reopening do not need to be resubmitted.”

Information on how to submit comments before August 8 is available at

Exclusive: Video offered as evidence of Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Originally Published

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and You can reach him at [email protected].

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