Protection Sought For Rare Black-Backed Woodpecker

According to a report released by AP, the black-backed woodpecker is in extreme danger of becoming completely extinct.

Residing primarily in Oregon’s Eastern Cascades and the Black Hills of eastern Wyoming, the rare bird makes almost it’s entire living off of beetle larvae dwelling in the post-charred forests that have since burned out from the landscape altering blaze that once consumed it.

However, due to salvage logging that follows a charred forest, combined with the deforestation that accompanies the process, the habitat that was once plentiful is quickly dwindling.

Multiple conservation groups have filed petitions with the U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday to begin the process of trying to enlist the depleted black-backed woodpecker in the Endangered Species Act, providing much needed protection for the bird.

“Intensely burned forest habitat not only has no legal protection, but standard practice on private and public lands is to actively eliminate it,” the request said.

“When fire and insect outbreaks create excellent woodpecker habitat, salvage logging promptly destroys it.”

The petition goes on to say that “Such small populations are at significant risk of extinction, especially when their habitat is mostly unprotected and is currently under threat of destruction and degradation.”

University of California wildlife ecologist Chad Hanson says that the once abundant species have been inhabiting North American forests for millions of years, going all the way back to the ice age.

“Now, it’s very rare,” he said.

The plea to the the U.S. Interior Department explicitly states that there are fewer than 1,000 pairs in Oregon and California, and fewer than 500 pairs in the Black Hills.

Does the near extinction of the black-backed woodpecker surprise you?

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