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Friends of lost woodpecker hope for cash windfall

March 8, 2006 This article courtesy of Nature News.

Millions may go to conservation of ivory-billed bird.

US officials are seeking $2.2 million to help conserve the 'rediscovered' ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), even though there have been no new confirmed sightings of the bird.

Since a group led by ornithologists at Cornell University made the first claimed sighting for more than 50 years last spring, teams have unsuccessfully searched the Big Woods region of Arkansas for confirmation (see Nature¢ 437, 188-190; 2005). Over the past winter, birdwatchers reported a halfdozen possible sightings, but there have been no photographs or other solid evidence. Sceptics of the discovery dismiss the sighting claims as "faith-based ornithology".

The budget request to Congress calls for $1.6 million to develop the recovery plan for the bird; $400,000 for searching the lower Mississippi River Valley; and $200,000 for law-enforcement support.

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