Ivorybill: Researcher Says Ivory-billed Woodpecker Find Wonderful, but Not Surprising

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Wildlife researcher/author Chester Moore says ivorybill search should expand to Texas and other areas of the South

Wildlife enthusiasts around the world have rejoiced since Wednesday’s announcement that a team of scientists have found conclusive prove that the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought extinct, still lives in the bottomlands of Arkansas.

Chester Moore, a wildlife researcher and author who has written extensively on the search for the ivorybill, including the 2002 book The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker: Alive in the Southern Swamplands?, is elated but not surprised.

“It’s very very exciting and opens up so many possibilities, but the evidence has been there all along,” Moore said.

“I commend the team on their diligent, focused research. I have always felt that if someone had the time, funding and manpower, conclusive proof of the ivorybill could be established and now it has.”

Moore has logged expeditions search for the elusive species in Louisiana and Texas and even got to spend time in the field with the Zeiss-sponsored research team in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in 2002.

“I have been doing ivorybill research since the late 1990s, but going out in the field with Zeiss team members David Luneau and Martjan Lammertink really opened my eyes up to the possibilities. They were very enthused with the habitat they found in one tract we were in and I looked around and realized it is identical to that found along the Sabine River,” Moore said.

After conducting thorough research into one tributary of the Sabine, Moore and fellow researchers found what they believed was strong evidence that ivorybills were in the area or had used it recently.

“The cavities we found there and the type of habitat was perfect and right in line with ivorybill behavior. And it was in an area where a reliable eyewitness described seeing a female ivorybill with great detail. In the late summer of 2002, three of us, heard what we believe was the call of an ivorybill, but at the time authorities wanted nothing to do with such reports. I am sure they will be more receptive now,” he said.

Moore believes the Sabine and Neches River bottoms could house a small population of the phantom-like birds.

“Very few people really go out and look. You had a few guys like Art Mackinnon who did some serious field work in the 1980s, but most people do not go deep into those bottoms to look around and if they do they’re not ivorybill savvy. In other words, most of the people who penetrate these dark forests are hunters or backwater fishermen, people not really interested in supposedly extinct birds,” he said.

Moore and his group Project: Zoo Quest plan to distribute flyers throughout the small communities along the Sabine and Neches Rivers and hope to open up more research in these areas.

“There is going to be a lot more interest in this and it would not surprise me for there to be a few more areas with these magnificent birds in them. I have logged hundreds of reports, a couple of dozen which I consider fairly reliable so I will forward them to the proper authorities now that they will be more willing to pay attention and hopefully contribute to the long-term conservation of this formerly ‘extinct” species,” Moore said.

Anyone who thinks that might have seen an ivorybill or with information on potential areas to research should contact Moore via e-mail at cryptokeeper13@yahoo.com.

He will be speaking on ivorybills and giant catfish June 18 at the Southern Crypto Conference in Conroe, TX. For more information, go to http://www.cryptokeeper.com/conference.htm.

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Chester Moore