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September 3, 2003
Contact: Henry Cabbage (850) 488-8843

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reclassified the red-cockaded woodpecker from a “threatened species” to a “species of special concern” today.

During the first day of the FWC’s three-day regular meeting at Pensacola Beach, Commissioners voted to approve a new management plan for the species and approved rule changes to down-list the woodpecker.  However, Commissioners left open the option to reconsider the down-listing decision if future stakeholders’ meetings or staff assessments indicate it would be proper to take another look at the issue.

FWC officials say reclassification of the woodpecker is a benchmark in the continuing process of managing the species, but more goals lie ahead.  The management plan calls for further improvements in the condition of the species and maintaining 25 percent of the world’s red-cockaded woodpecker population in Florida.

The species of special concern classification indicates the species is in no immediate danger of extinction but requires special management attention.  Classification of species as endangered, threatened or species of special concern depends on the species’ population trends, range, probability of extinction within a specified time and other factors.

FWC researchers issued a biological status review of the species earlier this year and concluded the red-cockaded woodpecker does not meet any of the criteria for listing as endangered or threatened on the FWC list, but it does meet some of the criteria for listing as a species of special concern.  Reclassification will not result in less protection for the species, since conservation measures are based on the management plan rather than its classification.

In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which classifies species according to different criteria than the FWC, classifies the red-cockaded woodpecker as an endangered species.  The federal agency’s classification and protection measures for the red-cockaded woodpecker will not change as a result of the FWC’s decision.

FWC scientists consider the state list as a sort of scorecard to measure how effective conservation measures are at managing and recovering imperiled species.  The FWC changes species’ classification based on changes in the condition of the species’ population and the species’ vulnerability to extinction.





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