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IVORY-BILLS  LiVE???!  ...

=> THE blog devoted to news and commentary on the most iconic bird in American ornithology, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWO)... and... sometimes other schtuff.

Web ivorybills.blogspot.com

"....The truth is out there."

-- Dr. Jerome Jackson, 2002 (... & Agent Fox Mulder)

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

-- Hamlet

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

-- Arthur Schopenhauer

Thursday, July 04, 2013


-- WHAT did they know and WHEN did they know it?… --


...that was the question raised during the Watergate era, and it's beginning to rattle in my brain anew….

(again, you need to have read posts here from 5/31, 6/2, and 6/15, as background to this post)

Despite a lack of forthcoming conclusive information I still have hope that the facts behind the story unearthed by "Houston" at IBWO Researchers Forum may be resolved... He has put up another 'management plan' document received from his FOIA requests, and for now it only adds to the intrigue. See it here:


It is a 1971 memorandum from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service regarding management of areas of the Sam Houston National Forest (near to, but separate from the Big Thicket Preserve in Texas).

It contains several statements that are tantalizing, yet not conclusive as to whether they refer only to anecdotal reports of IBWOs, or some sort of more definitive evidence for the presence of the species in 1971:

"Dead trees of any species shall be protected due to probable presence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. See proposed Ivory-billed Management Plan (attached). The removal cuts in stands 7,8, and 9 will be deferred 2 years or longer depending on the continued presence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker."

"Ivory-billed Woodpecker sightings in the SE part of stand 8."

"Give the matter absolutely no publicity. We will follow up with a more detailed statement of our policy on handling publicity in connection with the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, within the next few days."

one map shown includes in the key: "Removal Cut Deferred due to Ivory-billed Woodpecker"

and a 2nd map key indicates an "Ivory-billed Woodpecker Sanctuary and Buffer"


WHAT to make of it?
I don't know that any of this is directly connected to either the earlier Goodwin/McClellan memo uncovered by Houston or the reference I earlier posted about IBWO in the Neches area. It is virtually impossible for me to imagine that USFWS (and others) could have known of confirmed IBWO populations under protection from at least 1967 - 1971, and word of this never have leaked out decades ago. The best explanation I can fathom is that the proper agencies (quite rightly) at the time took very seriously a series of anecdotal reports of IBWOs and acted accordingly, but that the reports were never confirmed, and that all involved felt too embarrassed at the time (or just lackadaisical) to ever speak publicly about the matter (in terms of actual protection measures instituted)…

But what if, for years, confirmed Ivory-bills were in fact under protection as late as 1971… it boggles the mind, to think that not only the public, but such Ivory-bill luminaries as Les Short, Jim Tanner, and Jerry Jackson when he conducted his 1980s search for the species, would have been deprived of such knowledge. It would be a conservation story almost as big as the very Cornell Big Woods story that kicked this blog off.
 (...but then, 'for the good of the birds, let's keep the public in-the-dark' is not an unknown attitude in the IBWO saga).
Anyway, it all gives more food for thought while awaiting Freedom-of-Information-Act requests to slowly play themselves out and just maybe yield a fuller explanation.

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