Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Brings Controversy - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Marsha Mays Reports

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Brings Controversy

MARCH 6, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:30 P.M. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker has many bird-watchers believing it's extinction is no more, but scientists who have studied the bird for decades, have their doubts. One of those scientists spoke at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge Monday night. Dozens gathered to listen to the expert.

Jerry Jackson, an Ornithologist and leading scholar on the bird, spoke about his 30 years of research, all about the bird that has brought so much attention to Northeast Arkansas. But Jackson has his doubts about all the hype.

"There are lots of sightings that have been made, but a scientist can't know what someone else sees," says Dr. Jerry Jackson, Ornithologist and Florida Gulf Coast Univ. Professor.

Jackson remains skeptical of the recent sightings in Eastern Arkansas; however he hasn't given up hope that the bird still exists.

"It's possible that they could be in the big woods of Eastern Arkansas, but we don't have definitive proof yet," says Jackson.

Jackson stated it's very important that there be some sort of real evidence that other scientists can look at and say a hundred years from now, yes that was an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. A nd that is something he says we just don't have yet.

"It's brought a lot of hope to people of small towns across Eastern Arkansas that have needed some hope. And I think we need to hang on to that hope and to use the momentum that we have for conservation," says Jackson.

Jackson says he believes the new found interest in the bird is important and will only help to gain support for the conservation efforts in this area. An area he says is well worth saving, with or without the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.

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