March 21, 2019
The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is has announced that a federally endangered species, the red-cockaded woodpecker, has moved in to Big Woods Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Sussex County.
This is the first documented occurrence of red-cockaded woodpeckers residing on the WMA. The pair of woodpeckers are banded and originated from The Nature Conservancy’s Piney Grove Preserve, which neighbors Big Woods WMA.
The Preserve has long harbored the sole remaining population of red-cockaded woodpeckers in Virginia, although a second population is in the process of being re-established in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the DGIF and partners.
The DGIF’s Executive Director Bob Duncan lauds this discovery as a conservation success for Virginia. “The long-term commitment of our agency and its partners to acquire and actively manage the Big Woods WMA for red-cockaded woodpeckers, and many other species, is tremendous, said Duncan. The arrival of these red-cockaded woodpeckers at the WMA marks a major landmark in DGIF’s conservation efforts for this endangered species. Under the federal Endangered Species Act, the DGIF has a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to serve as the lead agency for the conservation of protected animal species in Virginia, including red-cockaded woodpeckers. The Big Woods WMA was purchased in 2010 with funds provided in part by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Land Acquisition program, which provides grant funds to support the conservation of habitat for endangered and threatened species.”