Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 25, 2020


Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495,

Red-cockaded Woodpecker Is Latest Endangered Species Act Success

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the red-cockaded woodpecker has recovered enough to be downlisted from endangered to threatened. The bird once occurred across much of the southeastern United States in long-leaf pine forests but was federally protected as endangered in 1970.

“The red-cockaded woodpecker’s recovery is a tremendous victory for the Endangered Species Act,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The woodpecker is a fantastic umbrella species whose recovery benefits hundreds of other plants and animals across the Southeast. This recovery shows we can recover the ecosystems, in this case long-leaf pine forests, that species need to survive.”

The long-leaf pine forests that support the woodpecker are one of the largest and most diverse habitats in North America. But logging, urban and agricultural sprawl and fire suppression have reduced the forests to less than a quarter of their previous extent, resulting in at least 27 species being listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Service reported today that more than one million acres have been restored to support the woodpecker.

In the past four years, the fewest number of species — just 23 — have been listed as threatened or endangered since the passage of the Act.

“Secretary Bernhardt, who is a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and other special interests, has been an absolute disaster for endangered species,” said Greenwald. “The red-cockaded woodpecker’s recovery proves the Endangered Species Act works, but only when species are protected in the first place.”

Red-cockaded woodpecker. Photo courtesy of Martjan Lammertink, USFS. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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