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Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Endangered Species Essay

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Updated: Aug 23rd, 2020


Endangered species are species that have been shortlisted under the International Union for Conservation of Nature as most prone to becoming extinct. Many countries have laws that protect the endangered species but not all animals and birds are protected by these laws. There are laws that forbid hunting, deforestation and ensuring the preservation of these animals. In the United States, there exists data that demonstrates a correlation between the endangered and threatened species with a population of humans. Species are listed as threatened or endangered depending on the risks they face to being declared as completely extinct (Hunter et al. 440).

Some laws that cover the endangered species have been declared controversial in the way they place the species in the lists and the criteria used when removing the animals from the lists. Furthermore, there are animals whose existence is endangered and they have not been listed and thus are not protected under federal law. Listing species under endangered makes them vulnerable to poachers and collectors. Some animals such as the ivory-billed woodpecker are not protected under the law and there are dangers of them becoming extinct (Hunter et al. 442). This paper is focused on an endangered species known as the ivory-billed woodpecker.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

The ivory-billed woodpecker has been listed among one of the endangered species in America that is not protected by the federal law. It is among the largest woodpeckers with a length of approximately 20 inches and a wingspan of 30 inches. The ivory-billed woodpecker was mostly located in the virgin forests in Southeastern US (Gallagher 18). Nowadays it has become almost impossible to spot the woodpecker in the woods as the habitats have been destroyed through logging and also still due to human activities such as hunting.

These have reduced the number of the ivory-billed woodpeckers in existence and reports suggest that only a few have been spotted. The forests in America have been unable to maintain the existence of the ivory-billed woodpecker. The International Union for Conservation and Nature has reported that the ivory-billed woodpecker is critically endangered and near the possibility of being extinct. It has been listed in the US under the Class 6 species, which means that these birds are probably or definitely extinct (Gallagher 22). The ivory-billed woodpecker is nearing extinction due to lack of proper habitats due to logging and due to hunting by humans who mostly wanted the feathers.

The Southern United States had been covered with large regions of hardwood forests and this made these sites suitable habitats for the ivory-billed woodpecker before the American Civil War (Gallagher 45). After the war had ended, many acres of land were deforested by the timber industry, and this left sparsely isolated regions as probable habitats. The ivory-billed woodpecker is known to feed of beetles and larvae as well as insects, fruits and seeds. The bird is known to live in pairs in its life and they travel together. The pairing animals mate each year and between two and five eggs are laid and incubated within a period of 3 to 5 weeks. The pairs incubate the eggs together at different timings. Due to the heavy logging by timber industries and collectors, the existence of ivory-billed woodpeckers was devastated. In the 1920s, the woodpeckers were considered extinct (Gallagher 50).

Political, Economic and Ecological Elements to Protect the Species

Management plans give a guideline that can be used to achieve a certain goal. In this case, the goal is to protect the existence of the ivory-bill woodpecker by understanding their existence and the best way we can be able to protect this existence. The ivory-bill woodpecker was known to live in thick forests. Due to this fact, it is important to learn how we can be able to replace the forests to be able to lure back the woodpeckers to these habitats. When we consider factors that have contributed to the reduction of ivory-billed woodpeckers, it is important to understand that destruction of the nest trees and trees that act as the food source, it is important to consider a restructuring of these sites (Hunter et al. 448).

It is during the destruction in the forests that roads for logging and the slash fires increased routes for access by trappers, commercial collectors, and hunters and this increased the risk of these woodpeckers being harmed (Jackson 88). The loss of habitats was a cause for their decline but the main reason was the killing of the ivory-billed woodpeckers by humans though they also suffered from diseases. Ivory-billed woodpeckers prefer to live in large trees, vast forest areas, and in dead trees and large branches. There is a possibility that the food used by the woodpeckers can be found in large dead trees and this explains their preferences.

Recovery Plan

To be able to design a management plan for protecting the species, we have to understand the biology and ecology of the ivory-billed woodpeckers. Though there are suggestions that some ivory-billed woodpeckers have been spotted, it has become difficult to locate them. To be able to have a proper management plan, first, we have to be able to locate where the species can be found and confirm their existence (Jackson 92). Once the population has been identified, then we can be able to learn more about their biology and ecology and be able to provide a practicable approach in the way we can protect their habitat given the potential presence. It is important to consider the land protection and habitat management efforts and also focus on learning the location where the ivory-billed species may persist and examine the habitats to be able devise proper conservation actions.

The recovery process can only be fruitful when we are able to locate the birds or their nests. We have to be able to set achievable goals. The main goal of the management plan is to be able to locate, shelter, protect, and hope to increase the population of the ivory-billed species so that they can be down listed from the endangered species to at least the threatened species and thrive hard to remove the species from the federal list (Jackson 105).

The recovery process of the ivory-billed woodpeckers is hindered by us having limited or no knowledge at all in regard to the distribution, population abundance, biology and habitat requirements of these endangered species and thus we are unable to formulate a more definite recovery criteria. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are able to keep the ivory-billed woodpeckers in their preferred habitats. This can be done by being able to plant large trees of their liking and being able to protect these trees from loggers. Laws must be in place to prevent the logging of these trees through hefty fines or even fines.

Stakeholders Involved

Economic support is required to be able to achieve the goals and objectives of the plan. To locate shelter and increase the existence of the ivory-billed species and their habitats, the project has to be financed. There can be individual pledges in achieving the goal, but the main stakeholder in playing this critical role is the federal government. The federal government has the machinery and the finance to oversee the noble course of saving the extinction process of the ivory-billed woodpecker (Jackson 85). Furthermore, in achieving the goals and objectives of the management plan, there have to be laws that protect the existence of these birds. It has to be brought to the attention of all people that human activities that may interfere with the existence of these ivory-billed woodpeckers are highly prohibited. By so doing, the federal government has to enact laws that can protect these birds and those found going against the laws should be held liable.

Government agencies that deal with the wildlife and the forests are also stakeholders that are involved in the management plan. They have to play a role in ensuring they are able to protect the ivory-billed woodpeckers and their habitats respectively. The government agencies should institute programs to oversee the development of proper habitats for the birds. These programs should also include corporate and individual stakeholders or volunteers who would be willing to oversee the protection of the endangered species (Hunter et al. 455).

Consequences of the Plan

By overseeing the completion of the plan to locate, protect and increase the number of the ivory-billed woodpeckers, as a nation, the possibility or increasing the revenue from tourist visits is a possibility. Many tourists have been known to visit different countries in search for the ivory-billed woodpeckers and they have been disappointed to return without a view of them. By being able to provide them with a safe habitat, there is a possibility that the woodpeckers would multiply and due to this they would not be endangered species any more. Though many would oppose the idea of using government revenue and machinery to locate and protect the endangered species, if the plan can be used effectively, then the benefits that would arise from the project would be worthwhile.


In this world, there are lots of endangered species and most of them may become extinct if the federal governments do not put in place strict laws to protect the species. Human activities have been known to be the main cause why many animals and birds have become endangered. These laws have to be directed to humans that harm the habitats and existence of the animals. In so doing, the federal government can be able to monitor its wildlife and attract tourists who bring revenue to the country. There have to be proper conservation strategies in place to be able to protect the habitats of the animals and as humans we have to have proper conscience and learn the biology and ecology of the endangered species to be able to harbor their existence (Hunter et al. 450).

Works Cited

Gallagher, Tim. The grail bird: hot on the trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005. Print

Hunter, William C., et al. “Conservation of disturbance-dependent birds in eastern North America.” Wildlife Society Bulletin 29.2 (2001): 440-455. Print

Jackson, Jerome A. In search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Harper Collins, 2006. Print

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