The United States declared 23 species extinct on Wednesday, including one of the world’s largest woodpeckers, the ivory-billed woodpeckers, also known as the “Lord God Bird.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed to remove the 23 birds, mussels, fish and plants from Endangered Species Act protections because scientists have given up on ever finding them again.
The ivory-billed woodpecker had last been seen in the 1940s. “The fundamental thing that drove the woodpecker down to near extinction was the loss of the southeastern first growth forests, which really started taking place after the Civil War,” John Fitzpatrick, director emeritus of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, told AFP.
Its nickname, “Lord God Bird,” came from the expression “Lord God, what a bird,” when people spotted the woodpecker, said Fitzpatrick.
Other species declared extinct include Bachman’s warbler, a songbird last documented in Cuba in 1981, and eight species of freshwater mussel, which rely on healthy streams and clean water.
Eleven species from Hawai’i and Guam are included in the list, including the Kauai akialoa and nukupu’u, known for their long, curved beaks. Also lost was San Marcos gambusia, a freshwater fish from Texas last spotted in 1983.
Tiera Curry, a senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity, praised President Joe Biden’s administration for requesting a $60 million increase in endangered species protections.
“Extinction is not inevitable. It is a political choice. Saving species isn’t rocket science. As a country, we need to stand up and say we aren’t going to lose any more species to extinction,” Curry said.
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