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The mystery of the ivory-billed woodpecker ends: the US certifies the extinction of 23 protected species

The Ivory-billed woodpecker was the largest woodpecker in the United States and one of its most iconic birds. For 77 years, his existence sparked passionate debate: he was last seen officially on 1944 in a forest known as the Singer Tract in northeastern Louisiana, but there were ornithologists who documented sightings much later and even some blurry images were presented as evidence. . The discussion ended this week. The ivory-billed woodpecker ( Campephilus principalis ) is one of the 23 names that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has now proposed to withdraw from the Endangered Species Act of this country for not deserving the It is a shame to continue trying to recover it: its extinction is taken for granted. In addition to the ivory beak, the final death of other 10 birds, a bat, two fish, one plant and eight mollusks.

As stated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect and recover varieties in risk of extinction and the ecosystems on which they depend, but for these 23 animals and plants the action measures “came too late”. In the case of the ivory-billed woodpecker , this was included in 1967 in one of the first laws of protection of the country’s fauna and flora, which would later lead to the Endangered Species Law. But despite the measures put in place to recover and protect the forests where it took refuge, it had been a long time since there had been any authenticated sighting.

Deb Haaland, Head of the Service of US Fish and Wildlife said: “With climate change and the loss of natural areas pushing more and more species to the brink, now is the time to drive proactive, collaborative and innovative efforts to save wildlife. from the United States. The Endangered Species Law has been very effective in preventing species extinction and has also inspired actions to conserve endangered species and their habitat before they must be classified as endangered or threatened. ”

Una pareja de carpinteros pico de marfil fotografiada en 1935 en el bosque de Singer Tract.
A pair of ivory-billed woodpeckers photographed at 1935 in the Singer Tract forest. Arthur A. Allen

Despite these 23 losses forever, this US body believes that the Endangered Species Act is working successfully to prevent the extinction of more than 99% of the species to be protected that appear on the list, in which they have been included 1. 677 varieties from the year 1967. In fact, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, at this time 54 species dropped out of this classification for having recovered and others 56 went from being classified as “endangered” to “threatened”.

Of the other species officially declared extinct, there are eight birds that only lived in Hawaii – such as the Kauai akialoa, the Kauai nukupuu or the Maui ākepa – and an exclusive from the island of Guam – the bridled white-eye -, also in the Pacific. As the Fish and Wildlife Service points out, “the endemic species of the islands face a higher risk of extinction due to their isolation and small geographic scale.” This is a problem, as Hawaii and the Pacific Islands are home to more than 650 animals and plants on the endangered species list of USA, more than any other state. And most of these varieties cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

The Bachman’s warbler or Bachman’s warbler is also considered missing, a songbird that raised in the American Southeast and wintered in Cuba. Also included in the list of endangered species in 1967, the last time it was seen in the US was in 1962 and in Cuba there are no records since 1981. For the US Administration, it has already ceased to exist.

The other lost species are a bat that has not been seen since 1968 —The Little Mariana fruit bat -, a fish that was only found in Texas —the San Marcos gambusia -, another of a Ohio River —the Scioto madtom -, a plant from Hawaii – Phyllostegia glabra var. lanaiensis – and eight freshwater mollusks.

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