|USFWS and SCDNR biologists after an RCW release|
The ACE Basin is now home to four more federally endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers. They were released into a 10,000-acre tract of land along the Beaufort County side of the Combahee River. The Nemours Wildlife Foundation took considerable lengths to manage the upland pine habitat these woodpeckers require, working hand in hand with certified biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, who approved the translocation of these woodpeckers from Myrtle Beach.
|Biologists are watchful for woodpeckers in the foggy dawn|
|Bo knows how to release an RCW|
The beach birds are longtime residents of Horry County, but their habitat is largely fragmented there due to development. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) identified this group of three red-cockaded woodpeckers (RCW’s) as being in need of transfer into an area that has landscape-scale conservation efforts underway. While the Francis Marion National Forest (FMNF) may have been closer than the ACE Basin, that forest is already an RCW stronghold.
The 25th Anniversary of the ACE Basin in early November ushered in a new milestone when a large group of RCW’s were translocated from FMNF into Colleton County. This follow-up effort also involves one RCW that came from FMNF to join the three Myrtle Beach birds in hopes of introducing two breeding pairs at Nemours. The three beach birds consisted of one breeding pair and one male that is a former offspring now playing a helper role in their family unit.
Arriving at Nemours at 6 a.m. on December 4, I joined a cadre of wildlife biologists including Ernie Wiggers, CEO at Nemours Wildlife Foundation. These RCW experts represented private consulting firms, USFWS and the South Carolina DNR and they held a pre-dawn question and answer period for some local birders who were also in attendance. Many of the RCW experts had decades of experience and knowledge about life history of the red-cockaded woodpeckers began to flow, much like the pine sap that oozes from an RCW nesting tree.
To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.