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For Immediate Release, October 11, 2011

Contact:   Marc Fink, Center for Biological Diversity, (218) 464-0539
Tracy Davids, Wild South (828) 712-0945

Logging Challenged in Endangered Woodpecker Habitat at Mississippi's Noxubee Wildlife Refuge

BROOKSVILLE, Miss.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Wild South sent notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act today over the logging of endangered red-cockaded woodpecker habitat on the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi. Despite a steady decrease in the number of these endangered birds surviving in the refuge, the Fish and Wildlife Service is significantly increasing the logging of the woodpecker’s habitat.

Today’s letter coincides with the beginning of National Wildlife Refuge Week, which is celebrated by the Fish and Wildlife Service the second week of each October.

“As the Fish and Wildlife Service kicks off National Wildlife Refuge Week, it’s critical to remember that our nation’s wildlife refuges are intended to serve as a refuge for imperiled wildlife, not just another site for large-scale logging,” said Marc Fink, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Noxubee Wildlife Refuge can’t, in good conscience, be devoted to logging over the needs of endangered species.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service prepared a “comprehensive conservation plan” for the refuge in 2004 that identifies the target population of red-cockaded woodpeckers on the refuge as 88 groups and states that, as of 2004, there were 45 groups on the refuge. Today only 34 groups remain, and six of these “groups” are down to only one individual, meaning there will be no reproduction. At the same time, logging on the refuge has significantly increased.

“The decline in red-cockaded woodpeckers on the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge should be a wake-up call that additional protection is needed, and not justification for more logging,” said Tracy Davids of Wild South.

The Endangered Species Act requires agencies to re-consult on plans where new information reveals impacts to an endangered species that were not previously considered. Despite the steady decline of the red-cockaded woodpecker since completion of the 2004 plan for the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge, the Fish and Wildlife Service has not re-consulted as required.

The Act also requires agencies to consult on individual logging projects to ensure that the logging will not jeopardize endangered species. For projects on the Noxubee Wildlife Refuge, however, the Service provides no public notice and does not consult on impacts to endangered species.

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