In response to the recent threats to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to downlist the endangered Wood Stork to threatened status, the Audubon Wood Stork Research Team are calling attention to stark omissions in the media’s coverage and public dialogue on this important issue.
Wood Storks are a system-wide indicator species for the multi-billion dollar Everglades Restoration effort and its nesting remains decimated there due to wetland destruction. Thus, Wood Storks have moved in big numbers to many smaller colonies in Georgia and South Carolina, which Audubon scientists agree may meet the numeric prescription for downlisting.
However, nesting totals in the stork’s historic home in the Everglades tells a far more troubling story. There has been no new nesting in four of the past five years at the nation’s largest Wood Stork colony at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, located in the Western Everglades.
This raises serious questions about whether the Wood Stork can recover as a species without longterm restoration of its historic Everglades home. This and other questions about long term sustainability of the new small northern colonies must be answered before any claim of “mission accomplished”, which has been the tone of many recent news accounts.