4TH aUGUST 2014
1 hour ago by Vicky L. Sutton-Jackson
Thanks to the hard work of conservationists across the United States, the once imperiled American wood stork has been down-listed from endangered to threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Among the many organizations responsible for bringing the large wading bird back from the brink of extinction are the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy.
SREL's efforts began in 1983 with an extensive study of the wood stork's biology on the Savannah River Site and their nesting colony in Jenkins County, Georgia. The studies documenting their nocturnal feeding patterns, genetics, uptake of mercury and regional movements were the first of their kind in the bird's northern range.
Access to the stork's nourishing wetlands was reduced in 1985 when the Savannah River Site resumed operation of L-reactor, one of its nuclear reactors. Use of the reactor ended in 1988. SREL and DOE expanded efforts to protect the stork's habitat through collaboration with the National Audubon Society.