Existence of Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Called into Question

JULY 22, 2005 - Posted at 7:21 a.m. CDT

BRINKLEY, AR - The existence of the rare ivory-billed woodpecker in the swamps of eastern Arkansas is being called into question by an expert who claims the data provided supporting the bird's presence is not strong enough.

Scientist Jerome Jackson of Florida Gulf Coast University told the Associated Press that he challenges the scientific strength of the evidence that has been presented that an ivory-billed woodpecker exists in Arkansas.  Jackson wrote "In Search of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker" that was published last year.

In April, researchers at Cornell University announced they had spotted the woodpecker, once thought to have died out after flourishing in the forests of the southeastern United States.  Cornell pointed to several independent sightings and a video clip of one bird, though blurry, shows key features, including the size and markings.  They said the bird was sighted in woods along the Cache River.

Connie Bruce, director of marketing and communication for Cornell's ivory-billed woodpecker project, said that challenges from other biologists are part of the scientific process.  She said Cornell stands by its scientific data.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)